Arne Duncan claimed that Katrina was the best thing to happen to New Orleans schools. Parents of special needs kids beg to differ.

Ever since the RSD (Recovery School District) took over the city’s failing schools after Hurricane Katrina, some parents have complained about an admissions process made too complex by the high number of charter schools, most of which are under the recovery district’s umbrella.

The situation has been particularly acute for children with special needs, who have had a harder time getting placement into many charter schools and even some traditional schools. That’s one reason why the city’s charter schools, including those overseen by the Orleans Parish School Board, have proportionally fewer students with disabilities — and that’s disturbing.

…Talk, however, won’t help parents like Sue Bordelon, whose 17-year-old son C.J. has autism and fragile health. Ms. Bordelon said a charter school her son was attending last year forced him out, and she found resistance trying to enroll him in a traditional school. She’s joined a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center alleging discrimination against students with special needs.

“It’s difficult to navigate through the system,” Ms. Bordelon said, “it’s just so fractured.”
That’s what officials in both the RSD and the School Board must fix.

Photo by: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

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