New York Division of Training hit by discrimination lawsuit

The New York Department of Education was recently hit by a lawsuit alleging that it discriminated against students with developmental disabilities by keeping them in separate buildings.

The New York Department of Education (DOE) and School Chancellor Richard A. Carranza were recently involved in a class action lawsuit alleging allegations that the district discriminated against students with developmental disabilities on Staten Island. Students are enrolled in District 75 and are “taught in separate and unequal public schools and classrooms, effectively discriminating against them.” The aim of the suit is to “integrate disabled students from their district into the classrooms in the neighborhood, if they so wish”.

A 2012 image of New York City from the Hudson River, via WIkimedia Commons via Flickr / User: Peretz Partensky. (CCA-BY-2.0).

District 75 was established about 40 years ago to provide “highly specialized classroom support for students with significant challenges,” according to the DOE for students with developmental disabilities such as autism and cognitive delays.

The most recent lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of New York by mothers of three on behalf of 2,000 disabled students. According to the lawsuit, “District 75 unnecessarily isolates and perpetuates students[s] Stigma, misunderstanding and fear and reinforcement[s] Feelings of shame and unworthiness for students with disabilities who have been found incapacitated and deemed undesirable in their Staten Island schools. “The lawsuit goes on to say:

“The Staten Island District 75 school system denies equal educational opportunities to students with disabilities by forcing them into segregated settings, providing them with an education unlike that received by students without disabilities, and access to electives and subjects Denied extracurricular activities. or other ways to interact with students without disabilities, such as B. Lunch or break. “

District 75 consists of four schools including IS / PS 25 in Pleasant Plains (South Richmond High School), PS 721 in Clifton (Richard H. Hungerford School), PS 37R in Great Kills (David Marquis School of the Arts), and PS 373 in New Brighton, the suit notes.

One of the plaintiffs in the case is an 18-year-old autistic child identified by the initials EF on all court documents. The student attends P. 37R and receives “no adequate academic instruction”. The lawsuit alleges:

“When EF was fourteen, DOE staff said [her mother] that EF’s focus would be on professional skills, not academic achievement … A significant portion of EF’s day is now devoted to professional classes, which often include mopping, sweeping, picking up recycling, making office furniture and setting tables in a catering facility. ”

To make matters worse, students are often taken to one of the four schools in District 75 “regardless of the neighborhood they live in.” As a result, some families are forced to travel long distances to work. For example, a student, a 9 year old with autism and ADHD, was “transferred to PS 373 in January of his kindergarten year and stayed until March 3, 2020”. The student had to commute an hour to go to school at 6:55 a.m. each morning.

When responding to the allegations, a DOE spokeswoman Danielle Filson said:

“District 75 provides high quality learning environments for students with disabilities with extensive needs in the least restrictive environment for them. We will review the suit.”

It is important to note that the plaintiffs are not seeking monetary damages. Instead, a press release on the subject states:

Rather, they are seeking reforms that will force the New York Department of Education to allocate the resources necessary to allow every student in Staten Island District 75 to attend their neighborhood schools if they so choose.

Sources:

Lawsuit: SI students with disabilities in “separate, unequal” public schools and classrooms

SPECIAL EDUCATION IMPROVEMENT IN THE NEW YORK CITY DISTRICT 75

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