Last week, the US District Court granted preliminary approval to a settlement agreement in Doe v. State of Ohio, S.D.Ohio No. 2:91-cv-00464, a class action lawsuit filed in 1993. The lawsuit, filed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Sec. 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, involved delivery of special education to students with disabilities in Ohio school districts.
In the settlement agreement, the parties agreed that school districts had made significant progress in educating students in the least restrictive environment. They also agreed that, through the efforts of the Ohio Department of Education (ODE):
- Graduation rates for students with disabilities have shown continuous improvement.
- Students with disabilities have improved proficiency rates in English language arts and math.
However, the parties also agreed that students with disabilities in certain “target districts” need additional focus and supports. The target school districts are Akron City, Canton City, Cincinnati City, Cleveland Municipal, Columbus City, Dayton City, Lima City, East Cleveland City, Toledo City, Youngstown City and Zanesville City. The agreement, consistent with the ODE’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) state plan and Each Child, Our Future, Ohio’s strategic plan for education, focuses on promoting effective teaching and administrative strategies for improving literacy, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and meeting the individualized learning needs of students. The settlement agreement also strives to ensure more options are available to students who are transitioning from high school to employment, further education, and independent living.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Paolo DeMaria, commented that the settlement “affirms the objective of meeting the needs of all children, no matter the challenges they face, with the goal of ensuring they are prepared and empowered for a fulfilling post-high school path.”
Class members will now have the opportunity to submit comments on the Settlement Agreement before the court holds a fairness hearing on Feb. 11, 2020. ODE plans to send notice of the proposed settlement to public schools next week, along with instructions on how to share it with class members.