|Home > News > Alert! Class Action Suit Filed Against California Dept of Ed Over High-Stakes Testing (May 9 2001)|
State exit exam discriminates, lawsuit alleges
BY SANDRA GONZALES
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2001, in the San Jose Mercury News
"In unprecedented action that could eventually affect hundreds of thousands of disabled students statewide, Disability Rights Advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday against California's Department of Education, challenging its high school exit exam, which they say discriminates against those with learning difficulties."
"The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, charges that the exam discriminates because it provides no alternate assessment, no procedure for requesting accommodations and no process for appeals. The suit claims the exam tests disabled students on material that they have never been taught. As a result, the lawsuit says, the department has ``created chaos and confusion.'' The lawsuit seeks corrective action to remedy these alleged flaws in the system . . .."
"In addition to the state Department of Education and Superintendent Delaine Eastin, the suit, specifically, names Fremont Unified School District and its superintendent, Sharon Jones. One of the three student plaintiffs, 13-year-old Juleus Chapman, attends Fremont's Hopkins Junior High School."
The suit was also filed on behalf of the Learning Disabilities Association of California.
At an Oakland news conference, Juleus and 13-year-old Jennifer Lyons, another of the plaintiffs, said they expect problems when they take the test next year.
Juleus said he suffers from dyslexia and dysgraphia, the latter a learning disability that makes it difficult for him to write words legibly in a defined space over a normal time frame. Like other students with these disabilities, Juleus has a modified curriculum that allows him to use a laptop computer and calculator during regular tests.
But Juleus and his mother, Monique Chapman, said they were told by Fremont school officials that he would not be able to use any special accommodations on the tests. They were not provided with information on how to appeal, they said . . .
Disability Rights Advocates, an organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of people with disabilities, allege the exit exam was hastily developed and flagrantly violated the rights of disabled students -- 80 percent of whom they estimated will fail the exam, with profound, disastrous effects on their lives . . .
A similar lawsuit filed in Oregon by the Disability Rights Advocates was recently settled after the state agreed to adopt recommendations of an expert panel that led to improvements on testing students with learning disabilities . ."
Full text of article in Mercury News.
On February 21, 2002, Judge Charles R. Breyer issued a preliminary injunction
in Juleus Chapman, et. al. v. CA Dept of Education, et al.,
requiring California to provide accommodations for learning disabled students
who take the California High School Exit Exam in March, 2002.
No Harm: High Stakes Testing and Students with Learning Disabilities
Do No Harm analyzes the issues surrounding high stakes testing and students with learning disabilities, the legal implications of these tests, and safeguards that are needed to protect the rights of learning disabled students.
More Resources About High Stakes Testing
Letter to Wrightslaw: Are Children with Disabilities Required to Take State-Mandated Tests?
Provisions in IDEA 1997 Related to Students with Disabilities and State and District-wide Assessments published by Office of Special Education Programs, U. S. Department of Education, August 24, 2000.
Qs & As about IDEA, Students with Disabilities and State and District-wide Assessments. "Family friendly" version of OSEP Memorandum about assessments; 26 questions and answers about parental permission, role of IEP team, accommodations and modifications; alternate assessments, out-of-level testing, accountability, and more.
Do No Harm: High Stakes Testing and Students with Learning Disabilities. from Disability Rights Advocates (DRA). Analyzes issues surrounding high stakes testing and students with learning disabilities, including the legal implications of such tests and the safeguards needed to protect the rights of learning disabled students.
List of Appropriate School-Based Accommodations and Interventions for a Section 504 Plan or IEP by Rebecca Chapman Booth from National Attention Deficit Disorder Association.
Pass the Test or No Diploma: High Stakes Graduation Testing and Children with Learning Disabilities by Paul T. O’Neill, J.D., Wilkie Farr & Gallagher.
Books About Special Education Law & School Law
Law of Schools, Students, and Teachers in a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)
by Alexander and Alexander.
Do I Do When: The Answer Book on Special Education Law by Susan Gorn.