Charles County Moving Forward with Segregated, Alternative School for Districts’ Youngest Learners
On May 14, 2019, the Board of Charles County Commissioners approved Charles County Public Schools’ (CCPS) FY 2020 Budget. This budget includes $452,200 in funding for a new alternative elementary school – Fresh Start Academy. Fresh Start Academy (FSA) would set up a segregated school for students in kindergarten through second grade, who are removed from their regular classrooms for disruptive behavior. The removal of our youngest learners to this alternative school would constitute a suspension under state law and would violate the state ban on the suspension and expulsion of students in pre-K to second grade.
The FSA program ignores the spirit and intent of the PreK-2nd Suspension Ban law. It also raises serious concerns about CCPS’ obligations under federal civil rights laws, such as Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”), Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (“ADA”) and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), to evaluate students with disabilities and provide services and accommodations in the most integrated setting.
Disability Rights Maryland and its partners are urging CCPS to reconsider the FSA program and the ways in which they provide services to our youngest learners. For more information about the disability-related concerns related to this program, please read DRM’s letter to President Collins of the Board of Charles County Commissioners, and listen to DRM Attorney Amanda White’s testimony before the Charles County Board of Education at a May 14 public hearing.