Civil rights probe of schools hits home for parent of dyslexic children

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA TV) - A year-old complaint from a district employee concerning the treatment of students with learning disabilities within the school district triggered a U.S Department of Education investigation.

The department's Office of Civil Rights is looking at whether the district failed to identify students who have dyslexia or other disabilities.

"They continually try to keep dyslexia off of the IEP paperwork, but I was very persistent again in making sure that dyslexia was written all over those forms," says concerned mother Renee Raisanen.

Raisanen, who did not file the complaint, is a parent of two daughters who have dyslexia and attend Rapid City Area Schools.

Raisanen says even though working with the school district has been positive, it has required a lot of time.

"It has required a lot of persistence on my part and a lot of follow up."

Raisanen's daughter who has an individualized education plan, IEP, says she believes dyslexia is forgotten because many don't understand the impact it has on students.

Raisanen believes having tutors come and help students with disabilities from outside the district would be a big help.

"I feel that would really open up the opportunities for collaboration and knowledge sharing between the tutors and the teachers and the different education specialist."

The federal probe is also looking into complaints that whistle-blowing employees were retaliated against for their advocacy of dyslexic students.