Justice Dept. Sues Private School Network For Excluding Students With Disabilities
The Justice Department is suing a network of private schools for allegedly excluding children with disabilities.
In the suit, the government cites incidents of children with disabilities who were denied admission or removed from schools run by Nobel Learning Communities Inc. Such actions are a violation of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Nobel is a network of private preschools, elementary and middle schools with over 180 locations in 15 states. Schools operate under unique names such as Bethesda Country Day School and Merryhill Schools.
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“All parents want their child to have the opportunity to reach his or her full potential,” said Loretta King, acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. “The Justice Department will vigorously enforce Title III of the ADA to ensure that children with disabilities have a full and equal opportunity to participate in academic and non-academic activities.”
Meanwhile, Nobel put out a statement saying the company “vigorously denies the allegations,” but will work with federal investigators to reach a settlement in the interest of avoiding the costs of going to court.
“The alleged violations are the result of decisions we made to act in the best interests of the children in question and the schools as a whole,” Nobel Learning CEO George Bernstein said in the statement. “Moreover, they involve only a tiny fraction of the approximately 50,000 students we have served since DOJ began its investigation in 2005. That number includes nearly 1,400 students currently enrolled in Nobel Learning schools with a wide range of disabilities such as autism, Asperger’s, Down syndrome, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, asthma, seizure disorders, depression, blood disorders, bipolar disorder, ADD, hearing and vision impairments, heart conditions, severe allergies, and behavioral disorders.”