Alleged Discrimination Causes Lawsuit Against SCUSD

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Advocacy organizations are suing the Sacramento City Unified School District over supposed district-wide discrimination against disabled learners, especially black students, Chelsea Shannon with ABC 10 news published.

The suit was filed on September 5 on behalf of the Black Parallel School Board and three individuals, reported KCRA 3 staff. It claims that the district segregates students with disabilities from their peers, and that black individuals with disabilities are treated harsher than those of other races.

Carly Munson, attorney for Disability Rights California, said they believe that students with disabilities are segregated into completely separate non-public or public schools. The district has one public campus specifically for students with disabilities, and on other campuses, students are separated from their peers.

Munson said, “This district’s failure to see these kids, to serve these kids, to follow basic federal law is putting these students in grave danger and creating great stigma in front of their peers.”

One student included in the lawsuit was excessively suspended last year, eventually driven by distress to leave campus and attempted to run into traffic. Munson claims “SCUSD failed to lawfully address the situation.”

The district has over 80 schools, all of which have different ways of treating students with disabilities, and Lori Jablonski, teacher at CK McClatchy High School, claims that the suit “echoes concerns [she has] that the district is not training, following through, and checking on their school sites on a lot of issues.”

“Here at McClatchy we’ve talked about restorative practices for years now, but we’ve never had restorative practice training or restorative practice program that can be described and followed,” Jablonski said.

However, McClatchy is considered to be a full-inclusion school. Staff members Administrator Jessica Martin and a group of devoted teachers are working towards classrooms co-taught by general and special education teachers.

The goal of her program is to give students with disabilities an opportunity to learn alongside their peers. In the co-teaching model, students originally placed in smaller classes under the modified curriculum are now placed in regular classrooms, and provided with an extra teacher for support.

When students are included in general education classes instead of seperate ones, “we are providing equity and opportunity for those students,” Martin said, speaking on the subject of inclusion in relevance to the lawsuit. “This is what we are doing at McClatchy.”

Despite this program, many students have not noticed any change or improvement involving the treatment of special education students. CKM student Alexa Gray is not aware of any initiatives to help students with disabilities, and believes that “ any information regarding support [for those students] should be easily accessible and advertised well.” Gray thinks that the district needs to take responsibility for its actions, and programs to aid students with disabilities should have been implemented sooner.

SCUSD spokesperson Alex Barrios stated that the district declined to comment and that “[they] will not tolerate any form of discrimination in our schools and are taking these allegations very seriously.”