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Atlanta, GA: Black kids disproportionately identified as special needs

Jan 24, 2020, Atlanta Journal Constitution: State to require APS to review special education policies Atlanta Public Schools must review its special education policies after the state determined the district’s black students are more likely to be identified as having intellectual disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders. The Georgia Department of Education sent a letter last month notifying the district of its determination based on data it reviews annually. The state said APS has disproportionate risk associated with black students in two areas. Black students are 3.5 times as likely as all other APS student groups to be identified as having an intellectual disability. They are 3.82 times as likely to be identified with an emotional and behavioral disorder, according to the state. “You want everyone to have the same risk,” said Zelphine Smith-Dixon, the state education department’s director of special education services and supports. “For kids, you want them to all have the same equal probability of being identified and getting a label.” … She said the district’s special education department is working to support school staff as they implement procedures to “prevent disproportionality.” “Additional strategies led by the department include thorough reviews of eligibility reports for students to ensure identification is appropriate, monitoring discipline processes, and providing behavior/mental health services and supports,” Carstarphen said.


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