Local Law Group Files Complaint Against Petersburg Schools

Parents say there are several of problems with the way Petersburg schools handle students with disabilities. On Thursday, a local law group announced a formal complaint to the State Board of Education.

8News Reporter Tim Wronka spoke with several parents who told them that Petersburg schools failed to properly evaluate their children when it was discovered that they had special needs, and then didn’t give them fair treatment.

One parent says her child was constantly being sent home from school. 

“Kept getting suspended. He was out of school one year for something like 96 days,” says mother Tiurice Clark.

Clark says she spent almost a full year trying to get the right services for her son, who was eventually diagnosed with ADHD. Instead, she was asked to constantly pick him up for causing trouble related to his disability.

“My son was at the point like, ‘Why do I have to go to school today?’ They put in his mind he could crawl on the floor and he was being sent home.”

Fellow parent Tawanda Walker says school officials ignored her request to get her child evaluated.

“I felt like I wasn’t getting the answers and results that I needed.” Walker said.

They, along with four other parents, met with the Legal Aid Justice Center, who began working with Petersburg Schools to fix some of the issues.

In a formal complaint to the State Board of Education, the group claims Petersburg Schools are violating federal law and not properly finding kids who need special education. And the ones that are discovered aren’t getting properly treated.

The State Department of Education told 8News that they will determine how valid the complaint is; they will then have 60 days to investigate.

Tawanda Walker says she hopes something gets done soon.

“This is like a dream come true for me. I’m very emotional about it and I’ve been praying about it.”

Petersburg Schools issued the following statement concerning the complaint:
“Even though Petersburg City Public Schools disagrees with the Legal Aid Justice Center’s allegations, our staff has met with the group to address their concerns and avoid a complaint. Unfortunately, because of the actions of the Legal Aid Justice Center, Petersburg City Public Schools will be forced to expend its valuable financial and human resources responding to the complaint rather than using our resources for the benefit of Petersburg’s children.”

Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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