Foley attorneys working in cooperation with the Disability Rights Legal Center (the “DRLC”) recently reached a favorable settlement of a pro bono case that called into question a California charter school’s attempt to boost test scores by employing mandatory academic standards to expel underperforming students with disabilities. The plaintiff, a 13-year-old student with learning disabilities, was repeatedly threatened with dismissal from the Public Safety Academy of San Bernardino for his inability to maintain a minimum 2.0 grade point average. After pre-litigation negotiation attempts with the charter school and San Bernardino City Unified School District failed, Foley and the DRLC filed a civil rights lawsuit in order to continue the fight against discrimination and unequal access to educational opportunities for students with disabilities.
Foley and the DRLC asserted that the charter school and school district were violating various civil rights laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, by creating an unequal educational system for students with disabilities. In addition, Foley and the DRLC asserted that the charter school and the District were violating California’s Constitution, which requires that all children, including those with disabilities, receive equal access to educational opportunities, and the charter school’s policy prohibited such access.
After vigorous litigation and negotiations, Foley and the DRLC secured a settlement award of $40,000 and substantial injunctive relief for the plaintiff. In addition to requiring that all public schools within the school district eliminate academic criteria for admissions and continued enrollment, the settlement agreement provides broad injunctive relief in the form of policy changes, personnel training, and monitoring that will serve to benefit all similarly situated students in the San Bernardino City Unified School District.