New lawsuit regarding access to special education filed against Salt Lake City school district

Parents of two elementary students, “EJ” and “HS,” sue the Salt Lake City school district for wanting their children to attend their neighborhood schools and receive special education services. . However, since EJ and HS are cognitively disabled, the school district has assigned them to “hub” schools, sometimes more than 20 miles away, where they bring together students with special needs.

Beyond the Books visited this issue in June 2021.

Salt Lake City School District Superintendent Timothy Gadson is also named as a defendant; Acting Director of Special Education Nicole Suchey; and the Salt Lake City School District School Board.

EJ’s parents demanded that she attend Dilworth Elementary School, her neighborhood school, but the district insisted that she move to Emerson Elementary School to receive “tutoring” and support services. ‘full special education, “otherwise, its services would be reduced or eliminated.” the lawsuit reads.

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As a result, EJ is dating Emerson, despite his neighborhood friends and a brother traveling to Dilworth and Emerson being a much longer bus ride. Her parents have since discovered that the inclusive “collaborative classroom” the school district had promised had not been fully implemented in Emerson, according to the lawsuit.

HS’s parents went the other way and waived all special education services for HS in favor of keeping her at her neighborhood school, Bonneville Elementary. The district had assigned HS to Highland Park Elementary and a special class for students with “severe” disabilities, a designation with which parents of HS disagree. In fact, they say HS thrives in Bonneville with his friends and siblings, and enjoys an environment that is not confined to just peers with disabilities, and they fear his progress will diminish in a segregated environment.

Nate Crippes, an attorney representing families at the Disability Law Center, told Beyond the Books: “What we would like to see are children with disabilities attending school in their neighborhood, as well as their friends, their non-disabled peers. , their siblings who live in the same neighborhood, and to receive the special education services they need there.

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If EJ and HS prevail, the court can determine that the Salt Lake City school district is in violation of federal disability laws, which would indicate that the district must find another method to provide special education services. No compensation would be rewarded but the DLC could recover the legal fees.

When contacted, the spokesperson for the Salt Lake City School District told Beyond the Books she was not aware of the lawsuit but could not comment anyway. “We do not comment on pending / ongoing litigation,” Yandry Chatwin said via text message.

Learn more about 2News’ in-depth education on the Beyond Books page.

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