October 12, 2017
A new class action lawsuit, filed on October 11, 2017, alleges that Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (the GNETS program) illegally and unconstitutionally segregates disabled children. Filed by several disability advocacy organizations and individuals, seeking to act on behalf of every child who is now or in the future will be placed in a GNETS program and those at serious risk of being placed in a GNETS program, the lawsuit alleges that GNETS programs serve as “dumping grounds” for behaviorally challenged disabled students, segregates them from their peers, and gives them an “inferior and unequal education.” The lawsuit alleges the GNETS program violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment.
School systems have already seen an increase in scrutiny and media attention regarding GNETS along with parental requests to remove their children from GNETS programs, due to the United States Department of Justice’s lawsuit against the state. This new class action lawsuit is independent of the DOJ’s efforts and will likely only increase that scrutiny. Below are some general suggestions for school systems as they continue to support students with disabilities, including those in the GNETS program.
Proactive steps to support students and families
How to respond to parents concerned about a GNETS placement
School systems should contact their legal counsel for specific assistance with questions regarding GNETS program and services. The Education Team at Nelson Mullins is here to help. With approximately 19 lawyers specifically dedicated to the representation of public school systems in the State of Georgia, we are uniquely equipped to meet your needs. If we can be of assistance, please call one of us today.
These materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.