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19 October 2014

Fulton County School Board Member Blames Banneker Low Grad Rate on Special Needs Students

At a recent south Fulton community meeting, a Fulton County School Board member made comments sure to raise eyebrows among parents.

School Board Member Blames Special Needs Kids for Low Grad Rate

Fulton County School Board member Linda Bryant, who represents most of south Fulton on the panel, blamed the low graduation rate at Banneker High School on special education students.

"Banneker is struggling," Bryant told local residents. "But I can tell you another reason why Banneker may be struggling. Banneker has 29 classrooms of special education students. And when I say that to you, I want you to understand they are judged just like they may not be special ed. So that's one of the reasons why the graduation rate doesn't look as well."

Banneker High School had 281 special education students during the 2010 - 2011 school year. This is the most current data available from the Georgia Department of Education. Banneker's graduation rate in 2013 was 41.7%.

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) defines special education students as "eligible students with one or more disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, emotional/behavior disorders, specific learning disabilities, orthopedic impairments, speech/language impairments, visual impairments, significant developmental delay, and deaf/blind disabilities."

Another Fulton County high school with roughly the same number of special education students as Banneker posted a graduation rate more than double that of Banneker.

Roswell High School, which had 283 special education students enrolled in the 2010 - 2011 school year, reported a graduation rate of 86.5% in 2013.

Linda Bryant, who has served on the Fulton County School Board since 1993, made the remarks about Banneker's low graduation rate during a forum supporting the creation of the city of South Fulton. Bryant reminded those in attendance that if they annexed into the City of Atlanta, they would no longer be able to send their kids to Fulton County Schools.