Special Education

Settlement Reached in Pennsylvania Special Education Suit

By Christina A. Samuels — January 04, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

A group of parents and the Pennsylvania education department have reached a tentative settlement of a 10-year-old class action that claimed special education students have been largely kept out of regular education classrooms.

Judith Gran, the lead lawyer for the 12 families and 11 advocacy groups involved in the federal lawsuit against the state, said that school districts that did place special education students in regular classrooms provided few, if any, accommodations for the students’ special needs.

“Instead of being mainstreamed, they were being main-dumped,” said Ms. Gran, who is with the Public Interest Law Center in Philadelphia.

Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the state must establish an advisory panel of parents, advocates, and educators to review special education instruction throughout the state. In addition, the state must improve its monitoring of special education programs and provide on-site training to districts in inclusive educational practices.

Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Francis V. Barnes said he was pleased with the agreement.

“We think it results in a win-win situation, ending years of protracted litigation and improving educational opportunities for some of Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable students,” he said in a press release.

Court Review Needed

Although the state and the plaintiffs have agreed to the settlement, which was submitted to the court Dec. 21, it could be months before it becomes final, Ms. Gran said. U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of Philadelphia must review it, and the parents of the more than 250,000 special education students in the state must be notified.

“The big challenge will be having the [state education] department really influence 501 school districts,” said Steve Surovic, the executive director of the Arc of Pennsylvania. The advocacy group for people with disabilities was one of the plaintiffs in the suit.

Gia Royer, also a plaintiff, signed on to the lawsuit on behalf of her daughter Elizabeth, who has Down syndrome. Her daughter is now 18, and Ms. Royer said she will remain in school until she is 21.

Ms. Royer said she plans to push for employment-transition classes for her daughter, but she expects a fight—just as she has had to fight during most of her daughter’s schooling. Schools have been reluctant to place her daughter in regular classrooms and provided few special services, she said. The settlement of the lawsuit is too late for her daughter, Ms. Royer said.

“It’s going to benefit the kids behind her,” she said. However, she added, “I honestly still think parents are going to have to dig their heels in. I don’t think you can change that overnight.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 05, 2005 edition of Education Week as Settlement Reached in Pennsylvania Special Education Suit

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Achievement Webinar
How To Tackle The Biggest Hurdles To Effective Tutoring
Learn how districts overcome the three biggest challenges to implementing high-impact tutoring with fidelity: time, talent, and funding.
Content provided by Saga Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Reframing Behavior: Neuroscience-Based Practices for Positive Support
Reframing Behavior helps teachers see the “why” of behavior through a neuroscience lens and provides practices that fit into a school day.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Math for All: Strategies for Inclusive Instruction and Student Success
Looking for ways to make math matter for all your students? Gain strategies that help them make the connection as well as the grade.
Content provided by NMSI

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Special Education These Grants Could Help Students With Disabilities Access Jobs, Training
The Ed. Dept. is investing $236 million to help with transitions to careers and post-secondary education.
3 min read
Collage of a woman in a wheelchair on a road leading to a large dollar sign. In the woman's hair is a ghosted photo of hands on a laptop.
Collage by Gina Tomko/Education Week + Getty
Special Education Download DOWNLOADABLE: Does Your School Use These 10 Dimensions of Student Belonging?
These principles are designed to help schools move from inclusion of students with disabilities in classrooms to true belonging.
1 min read
Image of a group of students meeting with their teacher. One student is giving the teacher a high-five.
Laura Baker/Education Week via Canva
Special Education Inside a School That Doesn’t Single Out Students With Special Needs
Students with disabilities at this school near Seattle rarely have to leave mainstream rooms to receive the services they need.
8 min read
During recess at Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash., students have cards with objects and words on them so that all students, including those who cannot speak, can communicate. Pictured here on April 2, 2024.
During recess at Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash., students have access to cards with objects and words on them so that all students, including those who do not speak, can communicate. Pictured here, a student who has been taught how to lead and use commands with a campus service dog does so under the supervision of a staff member on April 2, 2024.
Meron Menghistab for Education Week
Special Education 5 Tips to Help Students With Disabilities Feel Like They Belong
An expert on fostering a sense of belonging in schools for students with disabilities offers advice on getting started.
4 min read
At Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash., special education students are fully a part of the general education classrooms. What that looks like in practice is students together in the same space but learning separately – some students are with the teacher, some with aides, and some are on their own with a tablet. Pictured here on April 2, 2024.
A student works with a staff member at Ruby Bridges Elementary School in Woodinville, Wash. on April 2, 2024. Special education students at the school are fully a part of general education classrooms.
Meron Menghistab for Education Week