Board Approves Large, Segregated School Despite Civil
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
August 16, 2006
ELKHORN, WISCONSIN--The Walworth County Board has voted overwhelmingly to move ahead with a plan to build a new specialized school for more than 250 children with disabilities -- despite a pending civil lawsuit claiming the plan would lead to illegal segregation.
According to the Janesville Gazette, the board voted 22-2 last Tuesday to approve a $22 million design for a new Lakeland School, which would be nearly twice as large as the existing school. It also agreed to accept $400,000 in donations for the new building's construction.
On July 31, the federally-mandated protection and advocacy agency Disability Rights Wisconsin sued the board, saying that building a larger Lakeland School would violate the children's federal rights to learn in the most integrated and least restrictive environment.
The suit reportedly claims that the county violates the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act because it serves more than 11 percent of its children with disabilities in public school settings separate from children without disabilities.
"Children throughout the county have the right to be in the least restrictive environment," said DRW managing attorney Jeffery Spitzer-Resnick. "Walworth County is so far away from that."
The two members who voted against the proposal said they did so -- not because of the lawsuit or federal law, but because of potential 12 to 20 percent tax increases.
"Lakeland School plans move forward" (Janesville Gazette)
"Disability group sues Walworth County Board" (Janesville Gazette)