Of Counsel

Legal Notes on Georgia and The South

ACLU Sues Alternative School

Posted by Maggie on March 12, 2008

“Alternative” schools are a joke. They have different names in different places, but in Georgia the alternative school is where they send kids with disciplinary records. Or kids with too many tardies. Or kids with psychological or behavioral problems. It is used like a punishment instead of an education resource. In my days working with juveniles, any parent with the resources to do so would take their kid out of school and home school them before sending them to the alternative school.

Most teachers and administrators at these schools aren’t trained to deal with students with special needs. Very little teaching takes place. It’s more of a holding cell. “Student Resource Officers” tend to get particularly nasty in these places. There are rampant violations of state and federal laws and standards, especially when it comes to the kids with psychological disabilities who have special federal protection.

The ACLU is suing the Atlanta Public School’s Alternative School, which is privately run. It claims the students are not adequately educated and are subject to “unreasonable body searches.”

Teachers and at least one administrator routinely hit students, throw books and throw students against the walls or to the floor. Nor do these reports reflect the violence inflicted by school resource officers and police officers. Such officers are often physically aggressive and have a practice of using choke-holds on students…. “They are subject to a humiliating search when they come to school… girls are forced to raise their blouses up to their necks,” said Emily Chiang, a New York lawyer who helped draft the lawsuit. “They don’t let students bring anything in, including books. That is why there is a no homework policy. “

I’m glad to see the suit going forward. Maybe they’ll pay attention to other schools outside Atlanta where the same practices are going on.

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