University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name S.S. v. Springfield ED-MA-0004
Docket / Court 3:14-cv-30116 ( D. Mass. )
State/Territory Massachusetts
Case Type(s) Education
Special Collection Olmstead Cases
Attorney Organization Bazelon Center
Case Summary
On June 27, 2014, the plaintiffs, a mentally disabled student and his mother, joined by the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities ... read more >
On June 27, 2014, the plaintiffs, a mentally disabled student and his mother, joined by the Parent/Professional Advocacy League, filed this class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts. The plaintiffs brought suit under the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA") against the City of Springfield, the Mayor of the City of Springfield, the Springfield Public Schools and the Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools. The complaint alleged that the defendants operated a discriminatory public school system that consigned hundreds of children with a mental health disability to the separate and inferior Public Day School.

The plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief for ongoing violations of the ADA, including an order that the defendants provide the student plaintiff and the plaintiff class with school-based behavior services in neighborhood schools to afford them an equal educational opportunity and enable them to be educated in neighborhood schools with their peers without a disability.

On July 28, 2014, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. The defendants asserted that the complaint failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted because the plaintiff’s complaint did not meet Federal pleading standards, and elements of the plaintiff’s ADA claim could not be proved.

On August 14, 2014, The United States of America filed an amicus brief on the proceedings in support of the plaintiff.

On February 11, 2015, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, modifying their pleading to add Disability Law Center as a plaintiff in the case.

Judge Mark G. Mastroianni held a hearing on the defendants’ motion to dismiss on May 13, 2015. He denied the motion on November 19, 2015, ruling that, because plaintiffs pled sufficient facts to make a showing as to each element of their ADA claim, dismissal for failure to state a claim was inappropriate.

On October 16, 2015, the plaintiffs filed a motion for class certification to certify a
class consisting of all students with a mental health disability who were or had been enrolled in Springfield Public Day School who were not being educated in a Springfield neighborhood school.

On December 16, 2016, Judge Mastroianni denied the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification. The denial turned on the fact that although the named plaintiff had exhausted his administrative remedies under ADA and IDEA prior to litigation (the ADA ruling was appealed), the proposed members of the class had not. The Court held: "Exhaustion is not only required before a party can litigate issues arising under the IDEA; a litigating party must also exhaust before bringing suit “pursuant to a different statute so long as the party is seeking relief that is available under subchapter II of IDEA.”

On December 30, 2016, the plaintiffs filed an appeal on the District Court’s denial of class certification to the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Litigation in the First Circuit continues.

Eric Wendorf - 10/06/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
Mental impairment
General
Classification / placement
Confinement/isolation
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Springfield, Massachusetts
Plaintiff Description A mentally disabled student and his mother, joined by the Parent/Professional Advocacy League and Disability Law Center.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Bazelon Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Pending
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  Montgomery Public Schools
http://www.bazelon.org
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Blackman. v. District of Columbia
http://www.bazelon.org/blackman-v-district-of-columbia/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  S.S. v. Springfield Public Schools
http://www.bazelon.org/springfield-massachusetts-school-system/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Doe v. Pasadena Unified School District
http://www.bazelon.org/doe-v-pasadena-unified-school-district/
Date: 2017
By: The Bazelon Center (The Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  A.J. v. Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools
http://www.bazelon.org/a-j-v-cesar-chavez-public-charter-schools-et-al/
Date: 2017
By: Bazelon Center (Bazelon Center)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
3:14-cv-30116 (D. Mass.)
ED-MA-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/11/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
ED-MA-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/27/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 33]
ED-MA-0004-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/28/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement of Interest of the United States of America [ECF# 40] (2014 WL 11209951)
ED-MA-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/27/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 55]
ED-MA-0004-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/11/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Supplemental Memorandum in Law in Support of Motion for Class Certification [ECF# 157]
ED-MA-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Statement in Support of Class Certification [ECF# 158-1]
ED-MA-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order On Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification and Defendants' Motions to Exclude or Limit and for Evidentiary Hearing [ECF# 191] (318 F.R.D. 210) (D. Mass.)
ED-MA-0004-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/16/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Mastroianni, Mark Gerald (D. Mass.)
ED-MA-0004-0006 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barkoff, Alison (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Blanchard, Michael D. (Connecticut)
ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Bohenek, Matthew T. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Bresnahan, Elizabeth M. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Delbasty, Jacqueline S. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Dorfman, Deborah A. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Fleischner, Robert D. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Goldman, Jeff (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Head, Carol E. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Mathis, Jennifer (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
McDonnell, Robert E. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Miller, Samuel R. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0007 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Sartori, Elizabeth M. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0001 | ED-MA-0004-0007
Staub, Sandra J. (Connecticut)
ED-MA-0004-0002 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers deSousa, Lisa C. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Kennedy, Mary J. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
MacDonald, Mary Ellen (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Manganelli, Mary Ellen (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Phelps, Melinda M. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Pikula, Edward (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-0004 | ED-MA-0004-9000
Wilson, Anthony I. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Goodwin, Karen L. (Massachusetts)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Langford, Anne E. (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0004-9000
Leung, Michelle (District of Columbia)
ED-MA-0004-9000

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