On June 17, 2009 juveniles detained in the Pierce County jails and their parents filed a lawsuit alleging violations of their civil rights in the Superior Court for the State of Washington, County of Pierce. The Plaintiffs, represented by a team of public interest attorneys from the Columbia Legal ...
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On June 17, 2009 juveniles detained in the Pierce County jails and their parents filed a lawsuit alleging violations of their civil rights in the Superior Court for the State of Washington, County of Pierce. The Plaintiffs, represented by a team of public interest attorneys from the Columbia Legal Service's Institutions project, sought declaratory and equitable relief and damages, claiming that the Defendant's failure to provide educational services to the juveniles detained in the adult jail violated their rights under the federal and state constitutions. Specifically, the Plaintiffs claimed that by failing to provide educational services in the adult jail, the Defendants had violated the State Constitution's requirement that a free public education be provided to all children in the state. Furthermore, the plaintiff's claimed that the Defendants' actions had violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the United States Constitution.
On July 15, 2009 the defendants moved for removal from the Superior Court to the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Tacoma Division. The District Court granted the removal and the case proceeded there.
On March 29, 2010 the parties filled a settlement agreement. Defendants agreed to implement an educational program at the Jail that satisfies the state of Washington's legal requirements for educational programs. The defendants agreed to provide a written learning plan, individually crafted for the needs of each juvenile detained in the adult jail detailing the learning goals for the juvenile and a plan describing how to achieve such goals. The defendant school district agreed to provide certified instructional staff to conduct the program within the jail. While group instruction is not required under the agreement, each juvenile detained in the adult jail will be provided with individual instruction. Under the settlement agreement, the juveniles detained in the adult jail will be provided with the instruction in the subjects necessary under the law to earn credits towards graduation from the Tacoma public schools. In addition, the defendants agreed to provide special education offerings to juvenile's detained in the adult jail. Furthermore, under the agreement, the parents of the juvenile's detained must be given access to the written records regarding their child's education within the jail. All juvenile participants are expected under the agreement to comply with the rules of the Tacoma School District. However, the agreement holds that the juveniles detained in the adult jail cannot be disciplined by having their access to the program taken away. The one exception contemplated by the agreement is if the discipline is a result of an incident that took place during the juvenile's participation in the program. If this is the case, the agreement contemplates the jail being able to discipline the juvenile by taking away their access to the educational program.
The parties agreed to appoint a settlement monitor, whose mandate is to monitor the implementation of the settlement for the first four semesters of the program's existence. Furthermore, the parties agreed that the court should retain jurisdiction to enforce the agreement. If after a good faith negotiation the parties cannot agree to continue the enforcement of the agreement, the court is to exercise its jurisdiction.
The duration of the Consent decree is "six full semesters", which we read to be the equivalent of three years, during which compliance will be monitored.Justin Benson - 07/30/2011