A class action lawsuit filed by eight students in 1996 on behalf of hundreds of children with disabilities in the Ravenswood School District in East Palo Alto, California, demanded that the district and the California Department of Education (CDE) comply with federal laws ensuring a “free appropriate public education” to all children with disabilities. After years of pre-trial litigation, the Court first approved a Consent Decree in January 2000, and three years later an amended Consent Decree, including a detailed plan for improvement. Judge Thelton Henderson appointed a special master to monitor implementation of the Consent Decree and plan for improvement.
The Consent Decree calls for a multi-year court-appointed monitor, implementation of a detailed corrective action plan (Ravenswood Self Improvement Plan or RSIP), the building of a coordinated special and regular education system, substantial funds for consultation with national experts in literacy, bilingual assessments, instructional strategies, the integration of children with disabilities into regular classes, school administration and funds for compensatory education services to children previously denied services. The CDE must demonstrate that its state-level monitoring system is capable of ensuring continued compliance with the law and the provision of FAPE to children with disabilities in Ravenswood.
On behalf of the class, DREDF and attorneys from the Youth and Education Law Project continue to monitor Ravenswood’s implementation of the RSIP and CDE’s obligations under the Consent Decree.