Corey H. v. Board of Education of City of Chicago

995 F. Supp. 900 (1998)

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Corey H. v. Board of Education of City of Chicago

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
995 F. Supp. 900 (1998)

  • Written by Tammy Boggs, JD

Facts

Historically, all children with disabilities in Chicago public schools were placed in an educational environment based on the type or severity of their disability. As a result, many disabled children were educated in an overly restrictive environment compared to what their placements would have been if they were based on an individual assessment of their needs, which would have allowed some of them to be placed in a regular classroom with reasonable accommodations. Beginning in 1977 and in the 1990s, Congress passed national laws requiring that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), state educational agencies were required to ensure compliance with the LRE mandate on a local level. In 1992, several Chicago public-school students and their parents, on behalf of themselves and a class (the students) (plaintiffs) sued various parties, including the board of education of the City of Chicago (the city) and the Illinois State Board of Education (the state) (defendants). The students alleged that the city and the state had systemically failed to educate disabled children in the LRE, violating the IDEA. A class was certified. A panel of jointly selected experts found that the city was “seriously out of compliance” with the LRE requirements. The parties’ numerous attempts to reach a settlement failed, and in October 1997, the case went to trial. Evidence at trial showed that the city was severely out of compliance with the LRE mandate. The city historically lacked resources to comply, and the state’s funding formulas did not encourage compliance. Although up to 90 percent of children with “mild cognitive” disabilities could be served half time in regular classrooms, only 15 to 22 percent of them were. Over 90 percent of “trainable mentally handicapped” students were segregated from nonhandicapped students due to categorical placements. The students reached a settlement with the city, but the state refused to settle.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Gettleman, J.)

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