COLUMBUS—The Ohio Department of Education released its findings this week from an in-depth investigation that 13 Cuyahoga County school districts, one school district in Dayton, and the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center failed to meet the special education requirements of 159 students housed at the CCJDC from March 19 to September 30, 2014.
The inquiry was triggered by a complaint brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio in March 2015 that students with disabilities were being denied individualized instruction services while at the detention facility as required by federal and state laws.
ACLU of Ohio Legal Director Freda Levenson said, “The impact of these findings and the remedies ordered are huge. This investigation already is launching further reforms throughout the state. Many more hundreds—and likely thousands—of Ohio children with disabilities in detention facilities will receive the educational services to which they are entitled but have long been denied. Children in detention need their education just as much as kids at home do. A decent education is essential to prepare them for life in the outside world.”
The ODE’s Office of Exceptional Children, which led the investigation, issued findings letters to: Bedford City Schools, Cleveland Heights-University Heights City Schools, Cleveland Municipal School District, East Cleveland City School District, Euclid City Schools, Garfield Heights City Schools, North Olmstead City Schools, Maple Heights City Schools, Richmond Heights Local Schools, Shaker Heights City Schools, Strongsville City Schools, South Euclid-Lyndhurst City Schools, Warrensville Heights City Schools, and Dayton City Schools.
The ODE set forth the specific deficiencies in each affected student’s services and a list of corrective actions that each of the 14 districts must take to overhaul its handling of special education services for children detained at the CCJDC. The agency also requires each district to offer compensatory educational services to the children to whom services were denied. Of the 14 districts, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District had the largest number of deficiencies; it must now provide compensatory education to 133 students.
The Office of Exceptional Children will monitor the implementation of the corrective actions and audit each district’s special education services to detained students through May 31, 2016. The ACLU will continue to check on progress of the corrective actions.