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Region 2/Region 3 Parent Center Conference

August 8-10, 2017

Austin, Texas

Join us on Social Media:  #WeR2R3

General Conference Materials
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Time Topic Presenters/Facilitators Materials/Handouts
10:00 – 12:00 National Updates and Panel Discussion Eric Jacobson, Rorie Fitzpatrick, Tery Medina, and Kori Hamilton Equity Powerpoint, Powerpoint #2, Powerpoint 3, Handout 1
12:00 – 1:30 Working Lunch: NCSI Updates and Work Rorie Fitzpatrick Powerpoint

1:45 - 5:00

Breakout #1: Top Ten Fiscal Horror Stories (Policies that can protect your agency, Board and ED Financial Responsibilities) Glenda Hicks Handout 1, Handout 2
Breakout #2: Managing Remote Employees: Out of Sight is Not Out of Mind! Joyce Chastain Powerpoint
Breakout #3: Navigating Rough Education Waters Tery Medina and Kori Hamilton Powerpoint
Breakout #4: Meeting the Extra Special Needs of Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Families Kelly Henderson, Whitney Emerson, and Jena Martin

Powerpoint, Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6, Handout 7, Handout 8


Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Time Topic Presenters/Facilitators Materials/Handouts

8:30 – 11:45

Breakout #5: Motivating Your Board to Fundraise Glenda Hicks and Mary Jacob
Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6, Handout 7, Handout 8, Handout 9, Handout 10
Breakout #6: Strategies for Having Tough Conversations with Difficult Employees Joyce Chastain Powerpoint, Handout 1
Breakout #7: Using Infographics to Tell Your Center Story Joanne Cashman, Misty Goosen, Patrice Linehan and Jana Rosborough
Powerpoint 1, Powerpoint 2, Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3
Breakout #8: Transition from Early Intervention to Preschool and Beyond
Kathy Whaley
Powerpoint (part 1), Powerpoint (part 2), Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6, Handout 7, Handout 8, Handout 9
Salesforce Forum for Potential Users Aimee Heintz and Larissa Neale
12:00 – 12:30 CPIR Presentation Debra Jennings
Powerpoint, Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3


Breakout #9: Making Your Center More Parent-Friendly with Leading by Convening Tools Joanne Cashman, Misty Goosen, Patrice Linehan and Jana Rosborough Powerpoint 1, Powerpoint 2, Powerpoint 3, Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4
Breakout #10: Inclusion practices for families (like “how tos”), to include new Resources on Inclusion and Behavior Carolyn Hayer, Rene Averitt-Sanzone and Kathy Whaley
Handout 1, Handout 2, Handout 3, Handout 4, Handout 5, Handout 6
Breakout #11: Social Media Strategies and Lessons Learned and Making Virtual Activities Fun Joseph LaBelle and Eliana Tardio
Breakout #12: Tips for Getting Students Involved in the IEP Meeting Diana Cruz
Salesforce Forum for Current Users Aimee Heintz and Larissa Neale


Thursday, August 10, 2017
Time Topic Presenters/Facilitators Materials/Handouts
8:30 – 9:45 OSEP Project Officers Meeting David Emenheiser and Julia Martin-Eile
Powerpoint (Region 2 Data), Powerpoint (Region 3 Data)
10:00 – 11:00 Group Alike Discussion Forums TBD
11:15 – 12:30 Closing Keynote: A Season for Transformation: A Time for Voice, Advocacy and M.A.G.I.C.
Bradley Scott
12:30 – 2:30 The Branch Meeting, by invitation Vicki Farnsworth







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Class Action Lawsuit filed

Parents and Advocates filed suit in federal court October 11, 2017.  The lawsuit, was filed by parents of children with disabilities, the Georgia Advocacy Office, the Center for Public Representation, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Arc, DLA Piper LLP and the Goodmark Law Firm.  The class action lawsuit, filed in federal court, alleges that the state of Georgia, in denying GNETS students the opportunity to be educated with their non-disabled peers in neighborhood schools, violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.  For more information about the litigation, please visit  and see the GNETS Complaint Summary.


Public Hearings on the Proposed Repeal & Initiation of State Board of Education GNETS Rule (160-4-7-.15)

The Georgia Department of Education hosted four public hearings to collect comments on the proposed revisions to the GNETS (Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support) rule.  Public comments were accepted at the hearings and by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  The deadline for written comments was April 14, 2017. 


Astar4bulletpril 12, 2017 - 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Gwinnett County 

Buford Middle School Auditorium - 2700 Robert Bell Parkway, Buford, GA 30518

star4bulletApril 13, 2017 - 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Laurens County

Dublin High School Auditorium - 1127 Hillcrest Parkway, Dublin, GA 31201

star4bulletApril 19, 2017 - 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm - Thomas County

Thomas County Schools Professional Learning Center - 200 North Pinetree Blvd, Thomasville, GA 31792

star4bulletJune 15, 2017 - 9:30 am - Fulton County - State Board Meeting

Twin Towers East State Board of Education Room 2070 - 205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE, Atlanta, GA 30334

 star4bullet  Public Hearing Announcement
  GNETS Current Rule 160.4.7-.15
star4bullet  GNETS Revised (Proposed) Rule 160.4.7-.15


Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education (GCEE)

  star4bullet What is the Georgia Coalition for Equity in Education?

We are a broad coalition of disability, educational, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, civil rights and parent and youth advocacy groups from across the state who have joined together around our shared concerns about the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS) program. 

Read the GCEE Stakeholder Letter to Governor Deal - November 25, 2015

Read the GCEE Press Release - November 25, 2015


star4bullet What is the GNETS?

1) It is a statewide program that segregates students based on their behavior-related disabilities.

2) The program is usually housed in separate buildings, but can also be in a separate area in a traditional neighborhood school.

3) GNETS only serves students with disabilities deemed to have an Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD) eligibility.

4) GNETS are different from alternative schools as they are only for students with disabilities.

5) Students at GNETS range from 3-22 years of age.

6) Currently the 24 GNETS serve around 5,000 students with behavior-related disabilities and autism spectrum disorders.

For the past forty years, students in Georgia needing behavioral, mental health or other therapeutic services have been placed at the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Supports (GNETS) formerly known as Georgia's "Psycho-educational Centers". In 1970, the Rutland Center was established in Athens as the first GNET center. Currently there are 24 GNETS programs throughout Georgia. See the map of GNETS programs around the state.

gnets v 2 final without link

star4bullet U.S. Department of Justice Investigation

In July 2015, the U.S. government determined that the GNETS program illegally segregates students with disabilities. The report also stated that this was in violation of Title II of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). Read the entire July 15, 2015 Letter of Findings by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)

Summary of the Findings

1) Georgia unnecessarily and illegally segregates students with behavior-related disabilities through its GNETS program.

2) A majority of the students in GNETS programs spend their entire school day including meals, only with other students with disabilities in the Program. They have little to no opportunity to interact with their peers outside the GNETS program.

3)The existence of the GNETS program has prevented the schools from providing supports within the traditional school. GNETS enable school districts to segregate students instead of serving them appropriately.

4) Georgia does not provide teachers in general education schools with training to enable them to effectively support students with behavior-related disabilities in an integrated setting.

5) Many special education teachers also do not have any training on how to serve students with behavior-related disabilities.

6) Students in GNETS have an exit criteria developed that triggers transition back to traditional school. Most exit criteria were vague and contained higher standards of behavior than general education schools.

7) Most students at GNETS make no progress on their behavioral goals. Without appropriate behavioral supports, the students’ behaviors increase rather than decrease. Most students never reach their exit criteria and remain at GNETS for several years.

8) Once students enter a GNET, they become “stuck” in the program. A 2010 Georgia Audit found the average time spent at a GNET for a student was 4 years.

9) Most students in GNETS programs can be served in more integrated settings

10) Students who are in GNETS programs do not have the same opportunities to participate in elective courses and/or other extracurricular activities as their peers.

gnets v3 final without link


star4bullet Review Media Coverage on DOJ Findings

star4bullet Read the Georgia Letter of Response to DOJ

star4bullet Read the August 15, 2016 DOJ Letter to Georgia

star4bullet Read the November 1, 2016 Motion to Dismiss filed by the State of Georgia

star4bullet Read the December 9, 2016 DOJ Briefing Opposing the State of Georgia's Motion to Dismiss



star4bullet How Can I Learn More?

In addition to Parent to Parent, Who Can I Contact for More Information?

Georgia Advocacy Office








































GNETS Media Coverage

star4bullet Will Trump’s Justice Department Pay Attention to Disability Rights? | Mother Jones - 10/13/17

star4bullet GA Psychoeducational Schools an Unconstitutional 'Dumping Ground', new suit claims | AJC - 10/11/17

star4bullet Parents, Advocates sue state, claim inequities in GNETS schools | Georgia Health News - 10/11/17

star4bullet With Federal Suit Stalled, GA Advocates File Special Education Complaint | Ed Week - 10/11/17


star4bullet Feds will sue Georgia over segregated psychoeducational schools | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - 8/17/16

star4bullet Feds will sue Georgia over "psychoeducational" schools | Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 8/17/16


star4bullet Georgia Illegally Segregates Disabled Students, Federal Inquiry Finds | Atlanta Journal-Constitution - 7/15/15

star4bullet Federal Report on Special Ed System Alarming | Ledger-Enquirer/Alabama - 7/30/15

star4bullet Georgia Is Illegally Segregating Students With Behavioral Problems. There's a Better Way. | Mother Jones - 7/30/15

star4bullet Georgia illegally segregating students with disabilities in inferior buildings with inadequate instruction. | Washington Post - 7/29/15

star4bullet Georgia Illegally Segregates Children With Disabilites, DOJ Finds | Atlanta Public Radio - 7/16/15

star4bullet Georgia is Segregating Troublesome Kids in Schools Used During Jim Crow | Pro Publica - 7/29/15

star4bullet Report: State Program Segregates Behavior Disabled Students | Online Athens - 7/20/15

star4bullet State behavioral program serving Gainesville, Hall students under federal scrutiny | Gainesville Times - 7/18/15

star4bullet Georgia is illegally segregating special ed students, federal investigation says | Fusion - 7/16/15

star4bullet Georgia illegally segregates disabled students, federal inquiry finds | AJC - 7/15/15

star4bullet Georgia is Segregating Troublesome Kids in Schools Used During Jim Crow | WABE - 7/30/15

star4bullet Georgia is Segregating Troublesome Kids in Schools Used During Jim Crow | Propublica - 7/29/15

star4bullet Georgia offers no plan to fix schools' behavioral and emotional disabilities program | The Augusta Chronicle - 8/9/15

star4bullet U.S. probe into Georgia special ed program could have national impact | The Washington Post - 8/5/15

star4bullet Isolating Kids | Georgia Public Broadcasting - 8/4/15

star4bullet Why are students with disabilities segregated in Georgia? | MSNBC - 8/1/15

star4bullet Part one of a three-part series: Schools send disproportionate number of black children to programs already under fire for "warehousing" students with behavioral disorders. - AJC - 4/28/16

star4bullet Part two of a three-part series: Educators wanted to subject Libby Beem to behavioral experimentation in Georgia’s unique system of psychoeducational schools. A courtroom showdown would determine Libby’s fate. - AJC - 5/5/16

star4bullet Part three of a three-part series: With a tiny sliver of students, special behavioral programs record five times more restraints than all other Georgia schools combined. - AJC - 5/7/16

star4bullet The Separate, Unequal Education of Students with Special Needs - The Atlantic - 3/21/2017










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