FEDERAL COURT PRELIMINARILY APPROVES CLASS ACTION SETTLEMENT FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION STUDENTS IN COUNTY JAIL

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 10, 2017

CONTACT

Anna Rivera, Senior Staff Attorney, Disability Rights Legal Center: (213) 736-1031; anna.rivera@drlcenter.org
Samir L. Vora, Senior Counsel, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy: 424-386-4595; svora@milbank.com

Los Angeles, CA – On Friday, April 7, 2017, after nearly eight years of hard-fought litigation, Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC) and Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (Milbank) announce preliminary approval of a proposed class action settlement agreement with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. The settlement is expected to ensure that students eligible for special education services have access to such services while detained in the Los Angeles County Jail system (LACJ).

The suit was first filed in 2009 by DRLC and Milbank on behalf of students eligible for special education services who are detained in the LACJ. Named Plaintiff Michael Garcia, then a 19 year old student detained in the Los Angeles County Jail, had received special education services for a learning disability from early childhood through his detention at the county jail at age 18. Once detained, however, he quickly learned that no special education services were available to students at the jail.  Although no one disputed that Michael was entitled to receive services, no education agency was willing to take responsibility for providing his services. The lawsuit claims that the failure to provide services violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other federal and state laws.

Under this far-reaching settlement agreement, the LASD has agreed to implement a comprehensive system by which eligible students will be identified and provided access to special education services. LASD has also agreed to train Sheriff’s Department personnel regarding the provision of special education services to eligible students in the County Jail. The lawsuit is ongoing as to the remaining defendant.

DRLC Senior Staff Attorney Anna Rivera praised the consequent improvements at the County Jail, saying, “These model improvements by the Los Angeles County Jail send a strong message to other jail facilities throughout the country that the right to receive special education is guaranteed by federal law. Correctional facilities must work with appropriate providers to make sure that eligible students in jail receive special education services.”

“This settlement ensures that students like Michael will have access to the special education services they need to be successful in life and to act as productive citizens upon release,” explains Samir L. Vora, Senior Counsel at Milbank. “It’s through education that we break the cycle of recidivism.”

About Disability Rights Legal Center
Founded in 1975, Disability Rights Legal Center is the nation’s oldest national non-profit public interest cross-disability law center. Its mission is to champion the rights of people with disabilities through education, advocacy and litigation.  www.drlcenter.org

About Milbank Tweed, Hadley & McCloy
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy (Milbank) is a leading international law firm that has helped shape the legal landscape since its founding in New York City in 1866. Consistently ranked among the world’s top firms, Milbank’s transactional and litigation practices provide the scope, breadth and sophistication to meet the toughest legal problems facing the corporate and financial worlds.  www.milbank.com

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