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Indian River School District to discontinue special needs program in civil rights settlement

Delaware Public Media

A recent lawsuit settlement requires the Indian River School District to discontinue a special education program.

The 2016 lawsuit filed on behalf of students alleges the district unlawfully used its special needs program at the George Washington Carver Academy for years as a “punitive dumping ground” for hundreds of its African American students.

It accuses the district of discrimination and de facto segregation by disproportionately assigning African American students to the program under the pretext they were “troublemakers.”

The settlement calls for the district to discontinue the program at the end of the school year.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports, district officials say there are less than 20 students currently in the program. Those students will be returned to their home schools or "the least restrictive environment."

The settlement also directs the district to take measures to bolster its interventions for students with learning disabilities, and to increase technical and career elective courses offered at its junior high and high schools.

A special master has been appointed by the U.S. District Court to oversee implementation of the settlement over the next five years. Linda Rhen, an associate teaching professor of special education at Penn State, will fill that role.

No monetary damages sought in the lawsuit were awarded.

Indian River/Carver settlement by

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