Northern California Record

Monday, November 18, 2019

Parents of special-needs students allege rights violations by Antioch school district

By Elizabeth Alt | May 29, 2018

Discrimination 14

The parents of a special-needs student recently filed a lawsuit against Antioch Unified School District (AUSD) along with 10 unnamed defendants alleging their son was discriminated against for his race and disability.

The complaint filed on May 21 in U.S. District Court for the the Northern District of California says that the child is entitled to rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and as an African-American, he is a member of a protected class. The suit alleges their son suffered emotional damages and is seeking $145,000 for educational services to help their child.

The family says that when they moved from the San Francisco school district to the Antioch district their child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to assist with his special needs was not followed and certain services such as transportation to programs were denied.

The suit claims AUSD recommended and placed the student in a non-public school within the public school that segregated him and other special education African-American students from the rest of his peers without the parents’ knowledge and without having any assessments from the student’s general education or special education teacher or the school psychologist. The parents allege that because the student is African-American AUSD deliberately did not tell the parents about the placement and had no “intent to allow student the option to remain at his home school Fremont Elementary in general education … because his IEP offered him more services than the special education staff at Fremont Elementary were willing to provide.” The parents claim that AUSD has destroyed the student’s records of any services or requests for services.

The parents filed a complaint with the Office of Administrative Hearings in May 2017 that the student was denied a “free appropriate public education” during the 2015-2017 school years. During the hearing the parents state that the school district claimed the student’s prior IEP was lost or destroyed by his former district and claim the administrative law judge made “multiple prejudicial procedural errors” including misleading witnesses and ignoring evidence during the hearing.

The complaint states that since the new placement their son has “continued to further regress developmentally, socially, emotionally, academically and behaviorally.” The complaint alleges that the placement the student is in now is a “highly restrictive non-public school setting, where teachers and staff could perform physical abuse and restraints on students.” The suit claims that AUSD has kept the student in the non-public school “in a racially discriminatory manner; thus, depriving them of their right to equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. “

The parents are requesting injunctive relief, court costs, monetary penalties or judgment against the school district for its failure to produce records, and a compensatory fund for the student.

Plaintiff is represented by Nicole Hodge Amey of The Law Offices of Nicole Hodge Amey in Oakland, California.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Case Number 3:18-cv-02992-EDL

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U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California