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Justice Department Reaches Settlement with TPS to Resolve Discriminatory Discipline Case filed by ABLE

ABLE CASE UPDATE - Justice Department Reaches Settlement with Toledo Public Schools to Resolve Complaints of Race and Disability Discrimination in Student Discipline 

On July 31, 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio announced a settlement agreement with the Toledo Public Schools (TPS). The agreement followed a federal civil rights investigation into complaints of discriminatory treatment of African-American students and students with disabilities in school suspensions, expulsions, and referrals to law enforcement agencies filed by Advocates for Basic Legal Equality. The DOJ also investigated allegations that the district’s communications with parents and guardians with language barriers violated federal law. The investigation was conducted under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974. 

The agreement addresses and prevents discriminatory discipline of students based on race or disability and requires appropriate language services for limited English proficient (LEP) parents on matters essential to their children’s education. TPS is now required to take proactive steps to ensure its discipline practices do not discriminate against students based on race or disability per the terms of the settlement agreement with the DOJ. In addition, for parents and guardians with language barriers, the district will ensure it communicates essential school-related information in a language that they understand so their children can access the district’s instructional programs.  

In its press release, the DOJ noted that July of 2020 marked the 30th anniversary of the ADA. Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband, quoted in the press release, stated: “Discrimination against students because of their race or disability has no place in our country’s public schools,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband. “A student’s race or disability should never mean receiving harsher punishment in school. Such practices are unfair and unlawful, and they deny students equal access to the educational opportunities that are critical to success in school and beyond. We look forward to continuing to work with the Toledo Public Schools to implement this settlement and fulfill its promise of equal treatment for all of the district’s students.” 

Click to download the agreement.

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Advocates for Basic Legal Equality

Advocates for Basic Legal Equality, Inc. (ABLE) is a non-profit regional law firm that provides high quality legal assistance in civil matters to help eligible low-income individuals and groups in western Ohio achieve self reliance, and equal justice and economic opportunity.