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Virginia special education case is tossed; plaintiffs file complaint

Virginia, (Qnnflash) – After their class-action case against the Fairfax County School Board and Virginia Department of Education was dismissed, families who sued over services for students with disabilities have asked the state attorney general to investigate the two entities. The lawsuit alleged that the school system denied resources to students with disabilities guaranteed to them under federal law for decades. It also claimed that state hearing officers consistently ruled against parents who challenged decisions about their children’s education.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers stated that they plan to appeal the case and have filed a civil rights complaint with the attorney general’s office to continue their fight. They argue that Virginia, particularly Fairfax County, repeatedly violated the rights of the disabled under the Virginia Human Rights Act.

The Virginia Superintendent of Public Instruction, Lisa Coons, expressed excitement about the dismissal of the lawsuit but assured that the Education Department would continue efforts to improve special education services in the state.

There have been long-standing concerns over the services provided to students with disabilities, prompting increased scrutiny in Virginia. The U.S. Education Department launched multiple investigations into the state’s adherence to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that guarantees children with disabilities receive a “free appropriate public education.”

In late June, the state’s IDEA compliance level fell from “Meets Requirements” to “Needs Assistance” due to an accidental error in data filing. This lower ranking may lead to more intervention from the U.S. Education Department if it persists for more than one year.

The complaint filed with the attorney general’s office references the allegations in the dismissed lawsuit regarding the state’s due process hearings. The lawsuit revealed that the majority of hearing officers consistently sided with the state, raising concerns about the fairness of the review process for parents.

Despite the dismissal, the families involved in the case continue to fight for systemic changes and compliance with federal obligations under the IDEA. Their goal is to ensure that all students with disabilities receive the appropriate resources and educational rights they are entitled to.

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