Saturday’s Children and the Law News Roundup

Here’s a look at today’s top stories affecting children’s rights, juvenile justice, and education:

Cultural Considerations Rejected in N.Y. Private Placements, Education Week

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill Tuesday that would have required school districts to consider cultural factors when deciding on private placements for students with disabilities.

In a statement cited by the New York Times, Cuomo, a Democrat, said, the bill would have meant “an overly broad and ambiguous mandate” to send more students to private schools, burdening taxpayers with “incalculable significant additional costs.”

Some New York districts—like many across the country—don’t have the capacity to teach all of their students with disabilities in their own schools, so they often turn to private schools to educate these students instead. Typically, these placements are based solely on the students’ educational needs.

It seems it will stay that way in New York.

Romney’s education plans target of new Obama ad, CNN

Mitt Romney’s stance on class sizes in public schools came under fire Wednesday from President Barack Obama’s campaign, which released a television spot featuring parents who say their children benefit from lower student-to-teacher ratios.

The ad, called “Children,” will air in Ohio and Virginia on Thursday, the campaign said. Those states are key battlegrounds where Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman running as Romney’s vice presidential pick, has campaigned this week.

ACLU Tells Public Schools It’s Monitoring School Prayer Complaints, Wall Street Journal

As the new school year begins, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of South Carolina are hoping to educate the educators – as well as students and parents — about religious liberty through a new campaign encouraging schools to protect students’ rights to remain free from governmental promotion of religion.

“It’s important that all students know that they’re going back to school to a place where they will be welcome no matter what they believe,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the ACLU of South Carolina, in a statement Monday. The group claims to have received numerous reports of religious freedom violations, including complaints that many South Carolina schools impose religion on students.

One in Four Black Students With Disabilities Suspended Out-of-School, Education Week

Students with disabilities are suspended about twice as often as their peers, a new analysis from the Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles at the University of California, Los Angeles, has found.

Analyzing data that districts submitted to the federal Education Department’s office of civil rights, researchers found that the rate of suspension for students with disabilities was about 13 percent, compared with 7 percent for students without disabilities.

Most alarming, they said, was that one in four black students with disabilities was suspended at least once during the 2009-10 school year. That figure is 16 percentage points higher than for white students with disabilities. (Nearly one in six African-American students without disabilities was suspended from school during the 2009-10 academic year.)

New Reports Show Massachusetts Failing to Protect Children in Foster Care, Children’s Rights

A massive review of Massachusetts foster care shows that nearly one in five children who have been in state care for at least two years have suffered confirmed abuse or neglect — all while in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families (DCF), according to one of five reports issued by independent child welfare policy experts and released today by national advocacy group Children’s Rights and local counsel.

Homeless Foster Kids Finding New Life in Los Angeles, Children’s Rights

Alex Hunt

About Alex Hunt

Alex Hunt is a former Yale & Irene Rosenberg Graduate Fellow at the Center for Children, Law & Policy. Alex graduated from the University of Texas in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in government. Before entering law school, he taught middle school math at YES Prep Southwest in Houston with Teach For America. In 2010, he received New Leaders' EPIC Spotlight Teacher Award, a national award for teachers with outstanding student growth. Alex graduated cum laude from the University of Houston Law Center in May 2013. During law school, Alex was Casenotes & Comments Editor for the Houston Journal of International Law, interned for both state and federal judges, and served as Vice President of the Health Law Organization (HLO). In addition, Alex has received the Irving J. Weiner Memorial Scholarship Award (for a year of outstanding work in the UH Law Center Legal Clinic), the Napoleon Beazley Defender Award (for outstanding work on behalf of children), the Ann Dinsmore Forman Memorial Child Advocacy Award, the Mont P. Hoyt Memorial Writing Award for an Outstanding Comment on a Topic in International Law, and he was a finalist for Texas Access to Justice's Law Student Pro Bono Award. Alex is currently in private family law practice with the Hunt Law Firm, P.L.L.C. in Katy, Texas.

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