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Advocate’s troubles end with Chesterfield schools

Jeremy M. Lazarus | 8/19/2016, 1:15 p.m.
Kandise Lucas apparently will be able to enter public schools in Chesterfield County without facing arrest for trespassing. The advocate ...
Kandise Lucas

Kandise Lucas apparently will be able to enter public schools in Chesterfield County without facing arrest for trespassing.

The advocate for disabled students said she has been notified that she prevailed in a federal complaint challenging the school system’s ban against her that had been in place since 2011.

In a statement Wednesday, school sys- tem spokesman Shawn Smith confirmed Chesterfield County Public Schools had entered in a no-fault agreement with the federal government.

As a result, he stated the school system is “voluntarily revising its visitors policy ... to ensure that all visitors, including those on site for legal or advocacy reasons, un- equivocally understand the policy require- ments and any possible consequences for

a failure to meet those expectations.” The statement did not mention Ms.

Lucas.

In an email she wrote Monday, Ms.

Lucas stated that the “illegal ban” that led to her arrest thee times on trespassing charges in the past two years “is not only lifted, but the school district is updating its policies to reflect the needs of parents and advocates.”

She was acquitted in court in two of the cases, and Chesterfield Commonwealth’s Attorney William W. Davenport declined to pursue the third charge.

Ms. Lucas argued in her federal com- plaint and in court that federal law on the education of disabled students allows parents to have an advocate attend meetings with school officials to set up an Individualized

Education Program for their children. The county argued that advocates could be barred from IEP meetings and arrested

for being on school grounds.

In the wake of the federal decision,

Ms. Lucas said she met with Chesterfield Superintendent James F. Lane, who “ad- vised me that he wanted me to advocate” for county parents and children.

As a result, she stated, “we have de- veloped a collaboration where students are first, and parents and advocates are viewed as equal partners” with the school’s team in development of IEPs.

Ms. Lucas praised the Chesterfield and Richmond branches of the NAACP for supporting her push to end the ban, as well as her partners in the Dignity in Schools Campaign.