Department of Justice : “DOJ Orders LPS to Rectify Discrimination, Compensate Deaf Students”

DOJ Calls for Changes in Lincoln Public School District’s Treatment of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has recently addressed concerns regarding the Lincoln Public School (LPS) district’s treatment of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Following an investigation, the DOJ found that the district was in violation of federal law.

According to a letter from the DOJ to LPS, the district has been assigning deaf and hard of hearing students to specific schools designed for students with hearing impairments. This blanket policy, however, fails to consider the individual needs of these students and denies them the opportunity to attend their neighborhood schools or choose a high school. The DOJ argues that this policy is unnecessary and does not provide effective communication for deaf students.

The investigation was launched after Disability Rights Nebraska submitted a complaint on behalf of an LPS elementary school student. The student was told that she could not attend her neighborhood school and instead had to commute at least 25 minutes to her designated cluster school. This forced relocation deprived her of building friendships with children from her neighborhood and attending school with her sibling, ultimately disconnecting her from her immediate community.

Another student affected by the district’s policy had to commute an extra 90 minutes each day to attend two separate high schools in order to take elective courses. This student’s choice was a result of the limited options provided by the district policy.

Disability Rights Nebraska also highlighted the case of a student with temporary hearing loss who communicated through assistive technology rather than American Sign Language. Despite not knowing ASL, this student was enrolled in a different school during her senior year, which isolated her from her friends, teachers, and familiar school environment.

In light of these findings, the DOJ has called on the district to withdraw its blanket policy and instead conduct individual assessments to determine the best placement for each student. The district is also required to adopt a non-discrimination policy, provide training for all employees, and designate an employee to ensure the policies are implemented.

LPS has confirmed that out of 168 identified deaf and hard of hearing students, only 11 attend a cluster site school. The district’s legal team is currently reviewing the DOJ’s findings and is committed to working collaboratively to address these concerns while ensuring compliance with state and federal regulations.

It is important to note that this incident took place in Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Lincoln Public School district operates. The DOJ’s intervention aims to rectify the violations of Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in public entities.

In conclusion, the DOJ’s call for changes in the treatment of deaf and hard of hearing students in the Lincoln Public School district sheds light on the need for individualized assessments and inclusive policies that prioritize effective communication and equal opportunities for all students.

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