Segregated School Settings and the Americans with Disabilities Act

Robert Fleischner, J.D.

Robert Fleischner and the Center for Public Representation in Massachusetts filed and prevailed in court in a federal lawsuit alleging that Springfield Public Schools violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by placing more than 200 students with emotional disabilities in schools providing sub-par education and that worsen their mental health. This workshop will discuss that lawsuit and its outcome.

The civil suit alleged that segregating the students in three day schools — an elementary, middle, and high school — drove many to drop out and pushed some into the justice system, according to court documents.

It claimed the schools subjected the students, who struggle to regulate their emotions and behaviors, to inappropriate physical force and isolation in padded rooms. The suit also alleged that students faced suspensions for minor offenses, threats of arrest, and actual arrests by police.

The Americans with Disabilities Act requires the district to integrate the students into Springfield’s neighborhood schools, alongside peers without disabilities, and provide staff in those schools to address their behavior issues, the lawsuit claimed.