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Monday  •  July 20, 2020

HCPSS Redistricting Special Needs Exemption Appeal Trial – PART 1 – “Social Media is Fair Game” in Exemption Decisions

By Steven Keller

Included below are the first two audio clips in a series of testimony given at one of the 2019 HCPSS school redistricting appeal trials held last week on July 15, 2020. This trial involves three appellants challenging the 2019 HCPSS school redistricting based on how IEP & 504 exemptions were handled for students after the redistricting vote was finalized.


The identities of the appellants on this appeal and their children have been censored in these audio clips due to the privacy rights of the children involved.


In this first audio clip, the appellant’s attorney, Lorraine Whittaker, questions the HCPSS Specialist for Residency & Reassignment, who was responsible for evaluating students’ requests for exemptions from redistricting due to their 504 or IEP plans:


In her testimony, it is revealed that central office staff investigated the social media activity of parents as a part of their process to determine whether or not to grant an exemption to redistricting for a student with a 504 or IEP plan.

Is this scrutiny of parents’ social media within the scope of Policy 9000 which governs the process of determining redistricting exemptions for students? We’ll find out about that in the next audio clip.

In the second audio clip from later on in the testimony, this issue is revisited in greater detail during re-direct examination. The key question at hand that is posed by the appellant’s counsel: “What part of Howard County policy indicates that using social media posts of a parent is an appropriate data point for an investigation of a child’s exemption request?”

This is a highlight section that speaks for itself once you listen to it:


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