Justice Division Settles with Lewiston College District to Defend Instructional Rights of College students with Disabilities and English Learners | USAO-ME

PORTLAND, Maine: Today the Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with Lewiston Public Schools to end the district’s systemic and discriminatory practice of excluding students from all-day school based on their behavior due to their disability. The settlement will also require that the district provide equal educational opportunities for its English students. The department conducted its investigation under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1974 Equal Opportunities for Education Act (EEOA) after receiving a complaint from Disability Rights Maine.

The department’s investigation found that the district routinely cut the school day for students with disabilities without considering their individual needs or seeking support to keep them in school all day. The district’s inadequate training of staff on how to properly respond to student disability behavior contributed to the over-reliance on “shortened” school days. The district exacerbated the harm done to students by often giving them no classes or behavioral support during their school years. The department’s investigation also found that the district was not providing adequate service to its English learners, many of whom stayed in the district’s English learning program for years, without ever being fluent in English. As a result, many English learners, including immigrants and refugees from Somalia, Angola, and other African countries, have faced significant academic setbacks that can have lasting consequences.

“Students with disabilities and students learning English need extra support and services in school – not additional barriers to learning,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “It is unacceptable to give students with disabilities half the education they are entitled to. If children learning English are not properly cared for, they reduce their chances of success in their current school and beyond. The department works to enforce the law to ensure schools meet the needs and respect the rights of all of their students. “

“We are encouraged that Lewiston Public Schools worked with our research, saw the opportunity for improvement, and are committed to the successful implementation of our agreement,” said acting US attorney Donald E. Clark for Maine District. “We look forward to working with the district to improve educational opportunities for all students.”

Civil Rights Division attorneys conducted the investigation in coordination with the Maine District Attorney’s Office.

Enforcing Title II of the ADA in schools and the EEOA is a top priority for the Civil Rights Department. For more information on the Citizens’ Rights Department, visit their website at www.justice.gov/crt. For more information on the work of the Education Opportunities Department, please visit https://www.justice.gov/crt/educational-opportunities section. Members of the public can report potential violations of civil rights at https://civilrights.justice.gov/report/.

Comments are closed.