School District in Texas Being Sued for Discrimination

By: Mary Patricia

On April 15, 2019, five families in the Northside Independent School District in Texas filed a class action lawsuit against the district. In the petition, they are alleging several counts of disability discrimination against deaf and hard-of-hearing students. The school district is the fourth largest school district in the state of Texas and the district has allegedly failed to provide full access to their students.

The lawsuit has four counts that have “cause” for the lawsuit. The first count is violation of IDEA law. The second count is violation of ADA, Title II. Count three is the Rehabilitation Act - Disability Discrimination. The final count is section 1983, Failure to Train and Supervise Staff. The precedent clearly establishes the action.

IDEA, ADA Title II and Rehabilitation Act - Disability Discrimination all stem from discrimination and education access for the students. “Being excluded from participation in or being denied the benefits of the services, programs, or activities of and/or being subjected to discrimination at the NISD” (Regina Johnson et. al vs NISD). Because the school district receives funding from IDEA disbursements, they are required to uphold the standards established by IDEA law, by ensuring that all students with disability are provided a free and appropriate public education.

The root issue of the final count (failure to train and supervise staff) is because they have been hiring certified teachers that are not certified to teach in Deaf Education. This dilemma led to unequal and unethical access to education for students in the classroom that these teachers are teaching in. Matthew Finch of The Law Offices of Matthew L. Finch said, “To ensure changes are made, the lawsuit requests the court oversee the expected revisions made on school campuses.”

Parents are not seeking monetary damages (other than their legal fees being covered for by the district) but rather expecting the court oversees the school district and ensures that changes are made to remedy the situation. NISD spokesperson Barry Perez told Spectrum News the district has not received notice of the lawsuit and cannot comment until they have time to review the petition.

The Deaf Report will update new information pending the course of this case.