ATLANTA (Legal Newsline) — The Justice Department has
announced a lawsuit against the state of Georgia, alleging disability
discrimination in the way the state treats students with disabilities in the Georgia
Network for Education and therapeutic Support (GNETS) Program.
According to the lawsuit, Georgia segregates students with
disabilities in GNETS when they could actually be with their peers in general
education settings. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) includes a
community integration mandate that requires states make services available to
people with disabilities in the most integrated setting possible.
“Seventeen years ago the Supreme Court made clear that
states must serve people with disabilities, including children with
disabilities, in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs,” said
principal deputy assistant attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice
Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Gupta said Georgia’s actions do not
comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department considers community integration an
important part of its stance on the treatment of those
“Students with disabilities in Georgia are entitled to
access the services and supports that they need in the most integrated setting
appropriate, where they can interact with and learn alongside their
non-disabled peers and access educational opportunities that are equal to those
available to other students,” Gupta said.