Civil Rights possibly violated during public school closing, attorney says

Watch: Civil Rights possibly violated during SCS closing

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — While students are out of school many of them are turning to laptops, iPads, and even assignment packets.

However, there are students who need individualized education programs also known as an IEP who need greater attention that sometimes lack the resources of these items.

Civil rights and education attorney Victor Jones said that in trying times like now distance learning is all school districts can depend on to make sure students stay on track.

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“It’s very complex. I am speaking as an attorney, but I used to be a school teacher myself, so I do understand issues when it comes to resources,” Jones said.

Students across the Mid-South are currently out of the classroom.

Jones said for students with disabilities who have individualized education plans, or IEPs, he hopes parents are making sure students are receiving federally-mandated services.

“I remain concerned for that population of students if the current order by school districts that they are just going to remain indefinitely closed and they are not going to provide any form of distance learning,” Jones said.

According to the Tennessee Department of Education website, all school districts have access to providing lesson plans to students tailored to their necessary needs.

Jones said that if those services aren’t provided, that is very well when civil rights violations arise.

“And, to the extent, that those services cannot be provided right now during COVID19, as soon as COVID19 is over, whenever that is there has to be a plan in place to provide compensatory education services,” Jones said.

When it comes to making decisions for high school seniors Jones has seen many plans from districts that reserve the right to decide if the student passes or not.

He said that the same reserved right isn’t always fitting for other grades.

“For K-11 students who have to complete a set of criteria in order to advance to the next grade, in particular for students who have disabilities, they need to be provided with some form of instruction,” Jones said.