MD Schools Lead Region in Disability Discrimination Cases
BALTIMORE (WBFF) - A Project Baltimore investigation finds Maryland is number one in the region for cases of alleged discrimination against students with disabilities. And one Baltimore area school system has the most in the state.
We sat down with a student at the center of one of those cases. Angelina Davis attends Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She was born with a cataract in one eye, which results in headaches when she reads.
To help alleviate those headaches, the Davis family asked Anne Arundel County Public Schools for assignments with larger print that doesn’t strain Angelina’s eyes. The school system said no.
Sarah Davis, Angelina’s mother, says she believes the district said no, because it was too much work. “Because of the administrative burden of having to individualize assignments for Angelina,” Davis says.
Fox45 reached out to the school system and received this statement: “Anne Arundel County Public Schools exhausts all resources as we attempt to provide appropriate accommodations and/or services to all students with disabilities. When there is disagreement about those accommodations or services, we attempt to reach resolution using collaborative means. There are times, however, when those avenues don’t result in an agreement.” - Bob Mosier, Chief Communications Officer
“I think it’s mean. It’s not fair,” says Angelina. “If there’s something that’s going to help why not just do it?”
Frustrated and disappointed, the Davis family filed a disability discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights, which opened an investigation. That was in mid 2016.
From then to now, a Project Baltimore investigation found our state leads the region in current Office of Civil Right investigations concerning disability discrimination. Maryland has 47 current investigations. Pennsylvania has 27 current investigations. Washington, DC has 15 and Delaware has two.
In Maryland, the school system with the most active disability discrimination cases is Baltimore County with 12.
After two years of investigating, the Davis family received the federal government’s conclusion last week.
“It’s a mixed amount of emotions,” says Davis. “I was very excited.”
The Office of Civil Rights found Anne Arundel County Public Schools “discriminated against the Student on the basis of disability.” Angelina will get her larger print, but Davis says this ruling doesn’t just apply to Angelina. She says, since the Office of Civil Rights is part of the U.S. Department of Education, every child in America who is vision impaired is entitled to larger print.
“It will improve how I learn, which will help me in the future,” says Angelina.
We asked Baltimore County Public Schools for an interview to discuss why it’s the school district with the most disability discrimination cases in Maryland. We received this statement: “BCPS is devoted to providing every student, including those with educational plans, with a quality education that helps them develop skills beneficial to success as adults.”