Principal Deputy Assistance Attorney General
Office of Civil Rights
Department of Justice
On behalf of TASH—our state chapters and our members across the country—I would like to thank you and the Department of Justice for the strong letter issued to the State of Georgia regarding the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Services (GNETS) program. TASH strongly advocates, through research, policy, and practice, for the full and genuine inclusion of individuals with disabilities, and this letter sends a clear message that unnecessary segregation of students with disabilities is a denial of protections afforded by Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Far too often, and in far too many states, students with significant disabilities, including those with emotional and behavioral disabilities, face similar circumstances as those in the GNETS program. As your letter indicates, unnecessary segregation is often accompanied by other isolating and discriminatory circumstances, such as unequal access to educational opportunities like accessing the general education curriculum, interaction with their non-disabled peers, and denial of access to extra-curricular activities. These circumstances tend to compound the negative impact of students with significant disabilities by denying them both academic and social opportunities that would otherwise help prepare them for an adult life of full participation.
Thank you for working to ensure that the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act is realized across all settings and for all individuals with disabilities. Your attention to these issues adds strength and clarity to the strong civil rights protections of the law, and TASH is especially appreciative of your work.
Barbara R. Trader