Sep 7, 2022 - News

Forged documents fast-tracked special ed students

Illustration of a chalkboard in the shape of an upward arrow.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Some incarcerated youth with disabilities were improperly moved from special education classes to a GED program, the Arkansas Advocate first reported.

  • Employees for Rite of Passage, a private contractor for youth lockups in Arkansas, allegedly forged documents that allowed some students to advance without merit.

Context: An unusually large number of juveniles in Arkansas lockups received their GEDs in the 2020-21 school year. An investigation by the Division of Youth Services revealed video surveillance footage which showed an educator providing students with answers to the tests.

  • Yes, and: While known by DYS, the forgery allegations weren’t included in an April investigation report and only came to light in documents obtained by the Arkansas Advocate through Freedom of Information Act requests.

What they're saying: A spokesperson for the state Department of Human Services told the Arkansas Advocate the matter was handled internally by Right of Passage, but that the investigation removed "involved staff" and other changes have been made that "have strengthened this program."

  • The executive director of Right of Passage's Arkansas facilities said the matter was resolved a year ago.

The bottom line: Three Right of Passage educators resigned over the course of the investigation last school year.

What we're watching: Rite of Passage’s contract with the state expires next year. It will have an opportunity to bid on the business along with other companies in a request for proposal process.

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