Pennsylvania Education Advocates Allege Discrimination In Disciplinary School Placements

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Education Law Center was to file a complaint with the Justice Department on Wednesday, alleging widespread discrimination in alternative disciplinary programs in Pennsylvania. The center wants the state education department ordered to do a better job of monitoring the programs.

The Education Law Center found that although 16-percent of Pennsylvania students are identified as having disabilities, more than 44-percent of the students in alternative schools have disabilities. And while 15-percent of the state’s students are African-American, they make up more than a third of alternative placements.

Attorney David Lapp says though individual districts refer students, insuring that they do so fairly is the state’s duty.

“The department of education approves theses alternative disciplinary placements and when it does that, it takes on a responsibility to insure students are not being discriminated against.”

The state says it will comment after it has a chance to review the complaint.

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