Family of disabled student files complaint against New Hanover Co. Schools


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For the second time in the last month, a family has filed a civil rights complaint against New Hanover County Schools.

New Hanover County Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday says complaints filed with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right (OCR) are fairly routine for school districts. He says NHCS receives five or six each year. He says what’s not routine is how the two most recent have been handled in the media. Dr. Holliday says the school district never sees OCR complaints. Instead, he says OCR usually sends a letter alerting the district to the nature of the complaint and often asking for data. Holliday says OCR then handles the investigation and follow up.

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According to the group NC Fear Free Education, the family of a child enrolled in the school district filed a 98-page complaint yesterday with OCR. The complaint, the group says, chronicles specific incidents of discrimination listing times, dates and witnesses to the events.

“The reason we filed this Office of Civil Rights complaint is because our child is entitled to, under federal law, a free and appropriate public education just like non-disabled peers,” a parent of the child, who wishes to remain anonymous, said in a statement. “This means that our child is entitled to participate with non-disabled peers without being excluded from school functions, field trips and curriculum.”

According to part of the complaint released by NC Fear Free Education, the family says the boy was discriminated against for various reasons, including allegations that teachers did not follow his individualized education plan, accommodate his needs by using assistive technologies, not providing homework, excluding him from a field trip and even making fun of him.

Dr. Holliday said because the district has not received any information on the complaint and because of privacy laws, the school district cannot comment on this specific complaint.