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The U.S. Department of Education (USDOE)’s office for civil rights is investigating discrimination allegations against a government-run South Carolina school district.

According to our sources, the office is currently probing Lexington-Richland School District 5 in an effort to determine whether its administration discriminates against students with disabilities.

The investigation began last week – and centers around whether exceptional needs students who have therapeutic appointments during the school day should be excused for these treatment-related absences.

Parents say “yes,” the district says “no.”

A week earlier, the S.C. Department of Education (SCDOE) refused to investigate the district’s policies related to these absences – which in retrospect appears to have been a very poor decision.

While we await the outcome of the federal probe, this episode provides a teachable contrast to South Carolina’s new exceptional needs tax credit program – which last month awarded its first-ever scholarship.

As we’ve said from the beginning … expanding choice in the education marketplace is essential to elevating academic achievement across the board. It’s also essential if we ever want to release the stranglehold of a failing, non-responsive government-run monopoly that is especially inflexible when it comes to dealing with students with special needs.