Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

 Home > Law > D.L. v. District of Columbia, School District's Failures Cause "Severe and Lasting Harm" to Vulnerable Children with Disabilities


The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2015 Training Programs

Jan 16 - School District, LA

Jan 24 - Corpus Christi, TX

Jan 24 - Pensacola, FL

Jan 31 - Champaign, IL

Feb 19 - Lincroft, NJ

Feb 24 - Knoxville, TN

Feb 26 - Memphis, TN

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Consultations
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 

D.L. v. District of Columbia, School District's Failures Cause "Severe and Lasting Harm" to Vulnerable Children with Disabilities
by Pam Wright

Print this page

On November 16 2011, a federal judge issued a ruling in D.L. v. District of Columbia, (D.D.C., Civ. No. 05-1437).

D.L. v. District of Columbia is a class action lawsuit brought against the District of Columbia by seven young children with disabilities and their parents who endured obstacles to securing appropriate special education services.

Judge Royce C. Lamberth held that the District of Columbia failed to identify, locate and evaluate hundreds of preschool children with disabilities, and failed to provide them with a free appropriate public education as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Early Intervention: A “Narrow Window of Opportunity … Can Work a Miracle”

In his decision, Judge Lamberth wrote about the “narrow window of opportunity” when quality early intervention programs can work miracles:

“This case concerns the District of Columbia’s obligations … to provide special education to some of our most vulnerable citizens at a very early and critical stage in their lives. In the first few years of a child’s life, there exists a narrow window of opportunity in which special education, tailored to the child’s particular needs, can work a miracle …”

“[S]omewhere in the neighborhood of 75 to 80 percent” of the disabled children who are found in the community and served by quality early intervention programs will go on to kindergarten alongside every other ordinary five-year-old—without needing further supplemental special education. Trial Transcript, Dunst Testimony, 115:4–116:15, Apr. 6, 2011. So that’s what’s at stake here.”

The “Child Find” Mandate

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes the “Child Find” mandate that requires states to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21.

Child Find applies to all children, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1412(a)(3))

Note: You will find the Child Find requirements in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, pages 72, 206-207]

Failure to Comply with Child Find Does Irreparable Injury to Children

Judge Lamberth wrote about damage sustained by children who do not receive the special education and related services they need:

“The Court finds that these violations result in irreparable injury to all eligible children between the ages of three and five years old, inclusive … whom defendants did not identify, locate, evaluate, or offer special education and related services. Without access to these special education and related services, preschool-age children in the District of Columbia suffer substantial harm by being denied vital educational opportunities that are essential to their development.

The Judge established specific performance benchmarks in several areas. For example, the District of Columbia must:

  • Submit biannual and annual reports to the court showing their progress
  • Ensure that 95 percent of preschool children referred receive timely evaluations
  • Ensure that children from birth to age 3 who are in early-intervention programs receive a smooth and effective transition to preschool special education programs by their third birthdays.

If the District of Columbia does not meet the benchmarks, Judge Lamberth warned that it should expect “more intrusive Court involvement – e.g. the appointment of a special master or monitor.”

Judge Lambert concluded that: “Defendants’ persistent failure to live up to their statutory obligations, a failure that works a severe and lasting harm on one of society’s most vulnerable populations—disabled preschool children—is deeply troubling to this Court.

“Since defendants have demonstrated their historic inability to keep their promises to the District’s disabled preschool children, this Court hereby makes it crystal clear that failing to abide by the Court’s Order will earn defendants far more significant court involvement and oversight than is ordered this day.

”Parent attorney Margaret Kohn said “It’s a wonderful day … Early childhood is the time when you can have the greatest impact.”

Bruce Terris, another parent attorney, said the decision could double the number of preschool children who receive special education and related services.

Wrightslaw Note: This is the latest in a series of federal court decisions that found serious deficiencies in the District of Columbia’s special education programs.

Judge Lamberth has presided over this six-year-old special education class action suit. In April, the Judge lambasted city attorneys for their “repeated, flagrant and unrepentant failures to comply with Court orders” in handling pre-trial discovery. “A discovery violation of this exotic magnitude is literally unheard of in this court.”

You can read the decision in D.L v. District of Columbia (D.D.C., Civ. No. 05-1437) at
http://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/11/dc.dl.dcpubsch.pdf

Read the Amended Complaint http://tpmlaw.com/global_pictures/DL%20Amended%20Complaint.pdf

“Judge Accuses D.C. of Discovery Violation 'So Extreme As To Be Literally Unheard Of' ” published by The Legal Times on May 10, 2011

http://legaltimes.typepad.com/blt/2011/05/judge-accuses-dc-of-discovery-violation-so-extreme-as-to-be-literally-unheard-of-.html

Parent Attorneys

The children and their parents are represented by:

Bruce J. Terris, Kathleen L. Millian, and Shina Majeed
Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP
1121 12th Street N.W.
Washington, DC 20005

Jeffrey S. Gutman, Professor of Clinical Law
The George Washington University Law School
2000 G Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20052

Margaret A. Kohn, Attorney at Law
1320 19th Street, N.W., Suite 200
Washington, DC 20036

To Top

Revised: 00
Created: 12/14/11



Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

 

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

 

Copyright © 1998-2014, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map

What's New!

Now Shipping!

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Check it out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order


About the Book

To Order


Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order


To Order


Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
24.95
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)


Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)


Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95