1. Casey A., et al. v. County of Los Angeles, et al.;
Class Action Addressing Failure to Provide Education at Juvenile Detention Camp.
This case addresses the systemic failure to provide education at Los Angeles’ largest juvenile detention camp, Camp Challenger. The parties reached an interim agreement with Defendants to have a panel of education experts visit the Camp, meet with youth and staff, review documents and produce a report regarding recommendation for fixing the Camp’s broken education system. The experts, comprised of leading special education and education experts throughout the country, conducted a site inspection and meeting April 2010. Parties met with experts at the end of the inspection as well as when the experts’ report was issued. Experts also presented their finding to staff at Camp Challenger and to deputies for the Board of Supervisors. Parties reached a settlement in this matter based on the experts’ report. The settlement represents a significant achievement and DRLC believes it will effect substantial change in the education program at Camp Challenger and the lives of youth who reside there. DRLC co-counseled this case with ACLU and Public Counsel.
2. Garcia, et.al. v. County of Los Angeles, et.al.;
Class Action Addressing Special Education at Los Angeles County Jail.
A case of first impression in California, this case seeks to create a system to ensure eligible young adults with disabilities in Los Angeles County Jail facilities receive special education and related services, as well as accommodations and modifications, needed to access education while detained in jail. Defendants in this case include the County of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Sheriff Leroy D. Baca, Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles County Office of Education. On Sept. 28, 2010, the Los Angeles Times ran an article on lead Plaintiff Michael Garcia and his mother. In 2012, DRLC and co-counsel Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy LLP wrapped up settlement agreements with the County of Los Angeles and LACOE in this case regarding failure to provide and/or ensure provision of special education and related services to eligible students detained in Los Angeles County Jail.
Update: 2012. LAUSD v. Garcia.
The California Supreme Court has certified the following question for review in this case, which DRLC is co-counseling with Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy LLP: Does Education Code section 56041 – which provides generally that for qualifying children ages 18 to 22, the school district where the child’s parent resides is responsible for providing special education services – apply to children incarcerated in county jails? The briefs in chief have been filed. A number of disability rights organizations filed an amicus brief in the case represented by Stanford Youth and Education Law Project.
3. C. v. Cypress School District;
Six-Year-Old with Autism Denied Use of Service Dog at School.
DRLC, with co-counsel Winston & Strawn, LLP, filed to seek immediate preliminary relief against Cypress School District on behalf of a six-year-old boy with severe autism who was denied the right to bring his specially trained service dog to school. It is critical that the boy and his dog remain together at all times for the dog to effectively address the child’s needs, including his needs at home. In other words, absent the boy’s ability to use the dog on a continuous basis, the boy cannot effectively function even outside of school. As a result, the school has effectively vetoed C.C.’s choice of aid even during non-school hours. Settlement reached regarding public school’s refusal to allow autism service dog. DRLC is expected to receive attorneys’ fees and costs as a result of this advocacy.
4. Due Process Case Against Lynwood Unified School District Involving Six-Year-Old Boy.
DRLC reached a settlement agreement with Lynwood Unified School District about provision of compensatory education, therapy and service to a six-year-old student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and speech and language impairment. The student began preschool in the District at age four and despite parents’ and teachers’ repeated concerns about the student’s behavior and language capabilities, the District refused to address his needs in these areas for nearly two years. Only after the student was suspended from school for stabbing a peer with a pencil, and the student’s parents retained DRLC during his kindergarten year, did the District begin to provide student with some appropriate services. Under the parties’ settlement agreement, the student will be able to access compensatory speech and language therapy from a non-public agency for the preceding two years. This compensatory therapy will seek to remedy the District’s failure to provide student with any speech and language therapy during the entirety of his first school year in the District. Additionally, under the settlement agreement, the student will be enrolled in an afterschool academic enrichment program designed to promote and to foster socialization and positive behavior.
5. Due Process Case Against Lost Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Involving 21-Year-Old Conserved Student with Multiple Disabilities.
DRLC reached a settlement agreement with the Los Angeles Unified School District and Los Angeles County of Mental Health that enables a 21-year-old student to attend non-public school and receive mental health service he has been forced to go without since 2008. The student, who one day hopes to work as a chef or cook, was denied any educational or mental health services when he relocated from his mother’s home to a Regional Center sponsored group home in 2008. The student has multiple disabilities, including mild mental retardation and a hearing impairment. Working with the student’s mother (and conservator), DRLC negotiated a settlement agreement that resulted in student’s placement at a non-public school through his 23rd birthday; referral to the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health Full Service Partnership Program for comprehensive mental health evaluations and support; compensatory family and individual therapy for the student; reimbursement to DRLC for funding a private neuropsychological evaluation of student; and reimbursement to DRLC for funding a private transition and vocational evaluation of student.
6. Due Process Case Filed Against Los Angeles Unified School District About 7-Year-Old Student with Klinefelter’s Syndrome. Filed 2010.
Sept. 8, 2010, DRLC filed a request for a due process hearing on behalf of a student with Klinefelter’s syndrome. Despite parents’ repeated requests that Los Angeles Unified School District evaluate their child for special education services, the District refused to do so. Only after parents retained DRLC, and DRLC filed a compliance complaint with California Department of Education on behalf of parents, did the District finally evaluate the student. Following that evaluation and DRLC’s advocacy, the District found the student eligible for special education and agreed that student required placement at a therapeutic, non-public school to address his academic, attention and social-emotional needs. DRLC subsequently filed a due process request on behalf of parents seeking compensatory academic tutoring, speech and language therapy, and private therapy to make up for the District’s failure to provide student with any special education services for nearly one and one-half years.
7. Due Process Cases Filed Challenging Charter School’s Failure to Offer Appropriate Programs.
DRLC filed a request for a due process hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearing on behalf of a student with mild intellectual impairment and pervasive developmental disorder against the Los Angeles Unified School District and Vaughn Next Century Learning Center Charter School. The case challenges defendants’ ongoing failure to establish appropriate educational supports for students with disabilities. It also challenges the failure of the Charter School to provide the range of services for students with disabilities. The Charter school has taken the position that it is not required to provide such services, despite the fact that if it were a regular public school it would be required to.
DRLC also filed a request for a due process hearing on behalf of a second student with moderate intellectual impairment and motor skill deficits. For years, parents sought appropriate placement for their daughter without success. The student remains placed in a general education classroom on an alternate curriculum despite her eligibility as a student with moderate intellectual impairment. DRLC will file a request for due process hearing seeking compensatory academic instruction for two years due to the district’s and charter school’s collective failure to provide appropriate placement. DRLC will also seek placement in an academic setting that will, going forward, address the student’s unique academic and physical needs.
8. Due Process Case Filed Against Los Angeles Unified School District About Failure to Identify a Student as Eligible for Special Education.
DRLC filed a request for a due process hearing on behalf of a 20-year-old student with a mild intellectual impairment who formerly attended Venice High School. This student was overlooked in the classroom for years and was not identified as a student eligible for special education services until she was 19-years old. Today, this student is out of school and possesses neither a high school diploma nor the requisite transitional skills to undertake a self-sufficient adult life. DRLC is seeking compensatory academic instruction directed toward this student’s passing the General Educational Development Test as well as vocational and transitional education aimed toward achieving job and life skills.
9. Jose Luis Martinez v. LAUSD.
Jose Luis Martinez had long been known by his teachers and classmates for his positive attitude and desire to learn. Sadly, despite average intelligence, the then-fifth grader could only read at a second grade level and could barely perform basic math skills. The Los Angeles Unified School District took no action and made no comment on his lack of academic progress despite his mother’s request for an assessment, counseling, tutoring, changes in placement and other services to help Jose Luis. As a result, Martinez languished academically and socially. July 2012 DRLC secured a successful settlement at mediation whereby LAUSD must fund an independent psycho-educational evaluation, provide 120 hours of compensatory intensive instruction services, provide 50 hours of compensatory speech and language services, provide individual counseling for 30-mintutes a week and pay for attorneys’ fees and costs. Martinez is scheduled to begin his compensatory instructional service hours. DRLC is monitoring implementation of the settlement agreement.
10. Luz Madrigal v. Long Beach Unified School District.
DRLC and co-counsel Alston & Bird filed a due process complaint with California Office of Administrative Hearings alleging that Long Beach Unified School District failed to provide 19-year-old student Luz Madrigal with appropriate special education and related services. Madrigal, who is legally blind, alleges that the District failed to provide her with appropriate special education and related services while she was in high school, thus resulting in – among other things – a loss of educational opportunity, loss of services and unnecessary difficulty with transitioning to an independent life after high school, all to her educational and emotional detriment. Through the due process complaint, Madrigal seeks compensatory educational and related services.
11. G.H. v. San Dieguito Union High School District et al. Filed 2013.
On April 10, 2013, DRLC filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction on behalf of G.H., a minor, seeking a court order compelling her local school district to provide her with effective communication in the classroom. The case, filed in the Southern District of California, explores the differences between a student’s rights under IDEA and rights under ADA/504. DRLC is taking the position that when, as here, a student seeks to enforce broader rights and entitlements to which she is entitled under ADA/504, the administrative exhaustion requirements of IDEA do not apply.
12. S. T. v. Compton Unified School District et al. Filed 2013.
On March 22, 2013, DRLC filed suit against the Compton School District and LACOE for failure to provide special education students with accessible and safe school facilities. The case also alleges segregation and failure to provide integration opportunities. Since the complaint was filed, Defendants have relocated the special education program to an accessible facility, resolving many of the Plaintiff’s concerns. Case has been settled as to LACOE for monetary damages and fees. Litigation continues against Compton Unified; DRLC is seeking program accessibility of the middle and high school programs of Compton Unified.
13. B.M. v. Desert Sands Unified School District. Filed 2013.
DRLC filed a special education administrative due process complaint with the California Office of Administrative Hearings against Desert Sands Unified School District. The claim was filed on behalf of a 7-year-old student diagnosed with learning disabilities who attends Gerald R. Ford Elementary School. The complaint charges that the District failed to provide the young student with special education and related services as required by federal and state law. The young student was originally provided with special education services for a year; however, all support abruptly ended after the District’s own assessment. Instead of providing instructional services required to meet the girl’s needs, the school simply placed her in a classroom for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing without proper evaluation or the parent’s consent. The young girl is neither deaf nor hard-of-hearing.
14. F.A. v. Ontario Montclair School District. Filed 2013.
DRLC filed a special education administrative due process complaint with the California Office of Administrative Hearings against the Ontario-Montclair School District. The complaint alleges that the District failed to identify the Petitioner, a 10-year-old student at Hawthorne Elementary School, as a student with learning disabilities pursuant to California Education Code section 56300 and 56301, as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The complaint also charges that the District failed to both assess and to accommodate the student despite repeated signals of her struggle in school. The District claimed the student’s academic difficulties were due to her being from a Spanish-language speaking home.
15. Jeune v. Yucaipa-Calimesa Unified School District. Filed 2013.
September 2013 due process request filed on behalf of Zachary Jeune, a student who is blind but had been denied appropriate braille instruction and access to brailled materials. At a mediation November 2013, parties reached agreeable terms that included substantial compensatory education and changes to the prospective educational program. Since that mediation, however, parties have been unable to reach agreement regarding the terms to be included in the written agreement.
16. Roldan v. Chino Valley Unified School District. Filed 2013.
Student is a 17-year-old with Downs Syndrome. In June 2013 he was unsupervised while at school and went missing. When found, student was in possession of air guns. Although he handed over the air guns when asked, the school called the sheriff’s department, which tackled him to the ground and arrested him. The school did not make any changes to his educational program following this incident, so he has been out of school since the incident. Client filed for due process prior to retaining DRLC. Parties attended mediation December 2013 with the hope of entering into an agreement that provides him with an educational placement and IEEs.
17. Doe 2 et al. v. County of San Bernardino.
Improved the services of California’s San Bernardino juvenile detention facilities with respect to treating and educating youth with disabilities. Settled 2006.
18. Keith H. v. Long Beach Unified School District, et al.
Changed policies and practices of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services and related school districts to ensure that foster children are educated in the least restrictive environment. Established right to discovery of the other acts of discrimination to prove pattern and practice of discrimination and intent. Documents dated 2005.
19. Ciriacks v. Cypress School District.
Created legal precedent under the Americans with Disabilities Act that a school district must accommodate an autistic student’s service dog at school.
20. Bresolin v. Los Angeles Unified School District et al.
Ensured that parents with mobility disabilities have access to their child’s school.
21. Kloth v. Yucaipa-Calmesa Joint Unified School District.
A school district’s refusal to permit an autistic student with multiple disabilities to attend high school with his service dog without unwarranted restriction.
22. C.C. v. Cypress Unified School District
Cypress School District is refusing to allow a six-year-old child with autism to bring his service dog to school. The Disability Rights Legal Center and Winston & Strawn are taking legal action against the district for violating the boy’s civil rights. As of the time of this complaint, Eddy had been with C.C. for three months. Despite this short time, Eddy has had a profound effect on the boy’s life. With Eddy’s assistance, C.C. has begun to participate in public life without the normal safety and behavioral fears. As an example, the C. family attempted to go to the beach with C.C. C.C., who is afraid of the beach, became anxious. Eddy picked up on these signs and, without prompting, licked and nudged C.C. to calm him and redirect his attention. C.C. was able to stay and enjoy the beach with his family. The school district’s refusal to allow C.C. to access school with Eddy have forced C.C. to miss approximately two months of school. The family went to great lengths to acquire Eddy. They researched autism service animals, underwent a long application process, and waiting list. The family raised $14,000, the cost for the service dog, through online donations.
1. Calif, et. al. v. City of Los Angeles, County of Los Angeles;
Emergency Preparedness Class Action. Filed 2009.
This case challenges the Los Angeles County’s and Los Angeles City’s emergency preparedness programs and services for people with disabilities. The case began in early 2009 when DRLC, along with Disability Rights Advocates, filed a lawsuit against the City and County of Los Angeles to address their failure to adequately plan to meet the needs of all people with a variety of disabilities during emergencies. The suit highlighted a national problem, one made especially evident during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, during which people with disabilities, especially the senior population, had their lives put at risk because of lack of planning for this population. Among other things, the case challenges the failure to ensure that the City and County address the needs of people with disabilities with respect to evacuation transportation, communication, emergency shelter and recovery. For example, the suit addresses the ability to evacuate people who cannot drive or otherwise evacuate themselves, provision of such things as medication supplies and back-up generators to provide electricity for people on life-sustaining equipment and communication to people with hearing and vision disabilities. The case is one of the first of its kind in the country and the most comprehensive filed to date. The case now represents as many as 800,000 people with disabilities in the City of Los Angeles who are covered by the City’s and County’s emergency plans (estimates range from 450,000 to 800,000 people with disabilities in the City of Los Angeles).
2. Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness v. Laurie Weaver at.al.
Settlement was reached in this unique case challenging changes in requirements for Teen Pregnancy Prevention funding that had a disparate impact on teens who are deaf/hard-of- hearing. Funding was restored to Plaintiff, so it is able to provide necessary services to teens who are deaf and hard-of-hearing for the current six-year funding period.
3. United States of America et.al. v. Aurora Las Encinas LLC et.al.
DRLC is co-counseling this cutting-edge qui tam case with the Law Office of Colleen Flynn and Law Office of Mark Klieman. The case alleges that a local psychiatric hospital has engaged in healthcare fraud and abuse of dependent adults through provision of substandard care. In March 2012 DRLC survived a motion to dismiss its Fourth Amended Complaint and motion to disqualify its relator client. In April 2012 DRLC argued a complex discovery motion in front of the assigned Magistrate judge regarding discoverability of patient records. A decision on the motion is pending and will deeply impact the case.
4. Phillips v. University of Southern California, et al.
DRLC filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles against the University of Southern California (USC) and University of Southern California Care Medical Group, Inc., charging services and facilities offered at their San Pablo Street medical offices are inaccessible to individuals with disabilities who use wheelchairs. The case raises claims pertaining to defendants’ failure to have emergency management plans that take into account needs of people with disabilities and failure to provide patients with disabilities access to and use of accessible medical equipment. Knauf Associates is co-counsel.
5. Pilgreen v. Northridge Hospital Medical Center et al.
DRLC filed suit to challenge discriminatory policies, practices and architectural barriers that prevent and deter Mr. Pilgreen from having equal access to and use of healthcare services provided at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. Although Northridge operates a highly regarded spinal cord injury rehabilitation program, the facility is physically inaccessible to wheelchair users and hospital staff refuse to provide reasonable accommodations to those who need them.
6. Betsworth v. San Bernardino County. Filed 2013.
June 2013 lawsuit filed on behalf of Trixy Betsworth, a woman who was denied an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center despite repeated requests after her husband was struck by lightning. In October 2013 DRLC sent an informal settlement demand and asked for copies of the hospital’s procedures for people with hearing impairments. Defendants denied request and, in response, asked to depose DRLC’s client. DRLC propounded discovery on November 19, 2013.
7. Rodde, et al., v. Bonta.
Stopped the County of Los Angeles from closing Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Hospital, the only hospital serving individuals with disabilities. Documents dated 2005.
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