The United States Department of Justice, US Attorney’s Office and the Civil Rights Division are investigating a complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. They want to talk with families that either had a child placed in GNETS (Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) — a title only George Orwell could love — or had avoided the placement. If you or someone you know has had experience with the GNETS program (placed or avoided) and are willing to talk with DOJ attorneys (confidential and no charge) about your experience please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who are interested, here is a GNETS Performance Audit by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts.
DSW has heard from two parents who are seeking internal e-mails concerning the placement of their child and placement decision information on their child. They have been told that the information can be theirs for just under $2,300. DCSS claims they will spend nearly 100 hours gathering this information, most of which is from 2012 in e-mail form, and redacting these materials.
Redact? What are they talking about? The definition of redact, according to Merriam-Webster, is: “to select or adapt (as by obscuring or removing sensitive information) for publication or release.”
Is there some CYA going on with DeKalb County Schools? In the United States email exchanges sent over company computers are considered company property. Employees have no expectation of a right to privacy for messages sent or received over company equipment — and that includes inappropriate remarks — which may or may not have been made in this case. This is confirmed by citations in a May 22,2012 article in the National Law Review.
After 180 days in the U.S., email messages become just another database record. This means that a subpoena instead of a warrant is all that is needed to obtain a copy.
DSW’s question is: “Why can’t these parents see all information about their child? Nothing should be withheld. If DeKalb County Schools has the child’s best interests at heart, then they should be working collaboratively with the child’s parents, sharing all information.
Another question is: How difficult and time-consuming is it to electronically search e-mail for the child’s name or other identifying information and send those e-mails electronically to the parents?
This is not the first time we have been told about outrageous behavior by Palace personnel with regard to students who have been badly served by DeKalb County Schools. In fact, we are aware of a needy student who may lose the opportunity for a full-ride scholarship to a major university if DeKalb County Schools does not correct an error that they made.
The parents have been trying to get this error corrected (NOT a grade change) since 2011. They know that other similar steps have been taken for other students. They began with the principal who refused their request. They worked their way up the ladder of administrative authority at the Palace. They now have had to hire an attorney with money they do not have, but a 4-year full-ride scholarship and this student’s future is at stake — because of a mistake made by DeKalb County Schools personnel. No one at DCSS will take responsibility.
Yet, the region superintendent, Rachel Ziegler (former elementary principal being given a full scholarship by DCSS to get her Ph.D.) and the deputy superintendent, Kendra March, have been slow to respond but quick to overlook important facts that clearly show DeKalb County Schools’ culpability. Now, because the parents have hired an attorney, DCSS’s chief legal officer, Ron Ramsey (who recently was given an undeserved $50,000 raise) is involved. And he is ignoring phone calls from the attorney the parents have hired. This is outrageous!