Beaufort Violates Federal Rules
"But private schools can't meet the needs of all students!" We've often heard this claim put forward by status quo advocates at school choice hearings before the state legislature.
That statement is concerning on many levels, but the assumption that public schools are somehow meeting the needs of all students is particularly troubling. For one thing, it's an assumption that can only be made through ignorance of graduation rates, the achievement gap, and college entrance exam scores from public schools across the state.
Is Beaufort School District meeting the needs of all students?
Not according to the State Department of Education. In fact, the district has apparently been violating federal rules about the treatment of disabled children. According to investigators from the State Department of Education, special needs students who were suspended from school for more than ten days have not been receiving required special education services. The district has likewise failed to track the students' behavioural progress, and neglected to offer them the required counseling opportunities.
After having these violations pointed out, district administration said it would "take steps" to address the problems, but that the process would take time. Come on, people. A school district with scores of bureaucrats - not to mention hundreds of millions of tax dollars to operate with - should be able to address these failures immediately.
We wonder if a private school's infractions of federal rules would be treated with the same lenience?
If opponents of giving school choice to families were actually focused on the best interest of students, they would be looking at data from states where school choice is benefitting students. Florida has over 21,000 special needs students participating in school choic programs. Since 2003 - when all states started participating in NAEP testing - Florida has jumped to number one in the nation in gains for special needs students.
We're guessing there are many parents in Beaufort County who would welcome access to the same options as parents in Florida.