Justice for Brandon Beard - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Justice for Brandon Beard

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Tammy Beard has lost faith in the Catahoula Parish School Board. Her seven year old son, Brandon is a student at Jonesville Elementary. He has Down Syndrome, and is enrolled in their Special Education program.

"We are asking that they let him ride the regular bus, put a bus aid with him, and start giving him the education that the state is paying them to do"

Brandon rides the school bus home with other mentally-disabled children. His parents made the request for him to ride the school bus with non-disabled kids, to meet the requirements of him being in an inclusive environment, and the school board denied the request.

"I asked (Principal) Necie Barker, and she told me, we're not moving him. I went up and talked to the superintendent...surely they will move him. And she said, "You can't do that".

But for Brandon's parents, that was just the beginning. They accused the school system of denying their child of a proper education.

We were preparing Brandon's IEP with the school board, we requested documents and records from them that we were supposed to, by law, have access to. We were refused those documents.

The Beard's say that things became so bad, they were forced to hire an attorney.

"The parents attempted to resolve it by less formal means. They were spending a lot of time and resources, pursuing an informal route, and they realized they really didn't have any alternatives but to file a due process hearing against the district, which we did do."

Wesley Johnson practices in both Texas and Louisiana. She says, unfortunately, Brandon is not alone.

"Parents bear an impossible burden in the Due Process Level in Louisiana...the Administrative Law Judges have no authority to require a school district to provide documents in education records."

The next step for Brandon's family is a Due Process hearing to the State Administrative level. They're hoping that it can be resolved, without proceeding to Federal Court. They say that they're not seeking justice just for Brandon, but so that every child has a proper education.

"It's not just our children. Yes, it's personal for us, because we started it for Brandon, but it's every child in the state that this has a potential to affect. They're not all getting the education they're supposed to.

We contacted the Catahoula Parish School Board on Wednesday afternoon. In response to our report, Superintendent Gwile Freeman released this statement:

"The Catahoula Parish School Board is unable to comment on the allegations made by the parents through this and other media. While any parent is free to make public claims or comments of any nature or kind regarding their opinions, the Board recognizes that it is inappropriate for it to comment on confidential matters involving its students. The School Board is responding legally and administratively, as appropriate. While the lack of a public response may place the school system at a disadvantage in the realm of the news, Facebook and other social media, maintaining a student's confidentiality is not only important, it is required by law. Please rest assured that the Catahoula Parish School Board continues its mission of providing a quality education for all students, as well as a safe and supportive environment for students and staff."

You can read more about The Beard's concern for his education and more on their website at

http://www.justiceforbrandonbeard.com/

 

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