Education

Advocates Sue Georgia Over Educational Program

The U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 GNETS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 GNETS violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Credit Elly Yu / WABE

A group of parents and advocates filed a class action lawsuit Wednesday against the state of Georgia over a program they say segregates students with emotional and behavioral disabilities.

The lawsuit says that students in the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports Program, or GNETS, are kept in completely separate facilities from other students or in separate wings in schools.

“They don’t have access to role models and peer environments — or prom, lunch, playgrounds, science, a lot of the things that we would say is really a part of the school experience,” says Leslie Lipson, an attorney with the Georgia Advocacy Office, a nonprofit that’s part of the lawsuit.

The U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 said the program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department then sued the state of Georgia in 2016, but that case has been put on hold pending a decision in another case.

The state of Georgia had said the Justice Department didn’t have the legal authority to bring claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Georgia Department of Education declined to comment on the new lawsuit.