February 10, 2018 10:01:50 PM
PASCAGOULA -- The U.S. Department of Education is investigating a Mississippi woman's complaint that a state agency mishandled an investigation into the education of her disabled child and retaliated against her for her complaints.
Parent Lori Roy tells the Clarion-Ledger that a Jackson County school changed her 13-year-old son's individualized education plan -- a legal contract between the school system and the child -- without her knowledge. She said the school stopped agreed upon counseling, and that her son has an emotional disability that causes extreme stress.
Roy said the new school initially provided weekly counseling and work with a behavioral interventionist, just like her son's former school, but that stopped toward the end of his first year when instead it provided "sporadic" behavioral interventionist visits.
Roy filed an administrative complaint with the Mississippi Department of Education last September. The department launched an investigation on Sept. 13, but Roy said it never interviewed her son and was reluctant to speak to her about her experience.
In December, the state agency told Roy it found no evidence of wrongdoing by the district. She said her complaints affected the agency's decision.
She escalated her complaint to U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights later that month and requested a due process hearing with the school district. The hearing is meant to help parents resolve disputes with a school regarding their child's education. The hearing ended Friday, and Roy is awaiting the results.
A document from the Jackson County School District said "there was no clandestine change to the IEP (individualized education plan) as the complainant seemed to imply."
Jackson County Superintendent Barry Amacker said he can't speak on the specific case, but the district works to address every child's needs.
Federal guidelines say a new school should offer comparable services to the former IEP until a new one is put in place.
Jean Cook, a spokeswoman for the state agency, said the department does not comment on issues under investigation.