Louisiana congressman calls on investigation related to schools serving students with disabilities

Local News

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD)- Republican Congressman Steve Scalise is calling for a bipartisan investigation into how school closures are affecting students with disabilities.

In a letter addressed to various congressional democratic committee heads, schools across the nation serving this group of students are still closed for in person service.

The Emerge Center in Baton Rouge, a center for autistic students, returned to in person service in August.

“Our children couldn’t focus at that time, utilizing any sort of remote learning. We said let us try out ABA, our speech, our occupational therapy. A couple weeks it went okay, but still it wasn’t ideal,” said Deanna Whittle, CEO of The Emerge Center.

According to Whittle, students with disabilities have a higher chance of being held back because of the ongoing pandemic, which forced some schools to go virtual.

“The longer you keep them at home, I think, the worse it will get. as far as the anxiety, the fear and they need someone who is coaching them,” she said.

According to the Committee of Education and Labor Republicans , “school closures across the United States are adversely impacting students with disabilities and may violate federal law requiring schools to provide them with a “free appropriate public education.” 

The letter suggest virtual learning is not enough since students with disabilities thrive off of in person services.

Whittle recommends schools to return to in person learning or provide students with one-on-one services.

When Whittle’s students were learning virtually she noticed regression, anxiety and lack of attention.

“We saw a lot of children forgot what they had learned,” she said.

“Many special needs children benefit from consistent and attentive, in-person instruction and receive afternoon in-school therapy sessions. The lack of access to these services raises concerns about the impact on their mental health,” the letter suggest.

The full letter from Scalise and other congressmen is available here.

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