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Case Name National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty v. State of New York ED-NY-0017
Docket / Court 2:04-cv-00705-ADS-ARL ( E.D.N.Y. )
State/Territory New York
Case Type(s) Education
Public Benefits / Government Services
Case Summary
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty represented the Plaintiffs, homeless children and their parents living in Suffolk County. The Plaintiffs alleged that they were denied or deprived of access to a free and appropriate public school education and that the Defendants had violated the ... read more >
The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty represented the Plaintiffs, homeless children and their parents living in Suffolk County. The Plaintiffs alleged that they were denied or deprived of access to a free and appropriate public school education and that the Defendants had violated the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 11431-11435; New York Education Law § 3209; and other applicable laws and regulations promulgated thereunder. They also alleged that the Defendants deprived the Plaintiffs of their constitutional rights secured by 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and by the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Plaintiffs brought the action on behalf of two Plaintiff classes, a children class and a parent class.

On February 20, 2004, the Plaintiffs filed suit against the following Defendants: the State Defendants (the New York State Education Department (“NYSED”), its employees, and the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (“OTDA”)); the County Defendants (Suffolk County Department of Social Services (“SCDSS”) and its employees); and the School District Defendants (fourteen districts were named, and the Plaintiffs also listed John Doe School Districts 1-10 to represent additional still-unnamed school districts who allegedly committed similar violations of laws and regulations).

The Plaintiffs alleged that homeless children in Suffolk County were often turned away at the schoolhouse door, experienced significant delays in enrolling in public school, or were denied access to transportation or other basic services that formed the basic prerequisite for them to receive a public school education. They sought injunctive and declaratory relief asking the court to enter an order (a) declaring that the Defendants were in violation of the aforementioned statutes and the laws and regulations promulgated thereunder, and (b) requiring the Defendants to comply promptly with all such laws and regulations and do so on an ongoing basis.

Many of the Plaintiffs spent each night of the week in a different location, or moved from place to place seeking temporary shelter. The Plaintiffs alleged that the Defendants failed to take steps to ensure that children remained in their schools of origin if possible, nor did they assist families to ensure that the children received consistent, uninterrupted transportation to enable them to attend the schools designated for them by their parents. The Plaintiffs alleged that it took five days, sometimes longer, to obtain transportation to get children back to school after moving. Some Plaintiffs also allege that they were forced multiple times to transfer to different school districts during the school year. These children allegedly missed school because the School District Defendants insisted on enrollment paperwork – documentation of residency and immunization records – and refused to enroll them, without informing the Plaintiffs that they had the right to register children for school regardless of ability to provide this paperwork.

At the relevant time, SCDSS’ policy required that, to request emergency housing, all members of a homeless family, including school-aged children and employed adults, had to appear at one of its centers to be screened and to await placement. SCDSS’ policy required families wishing to be placed in emergency housing to return to their local center the next day with all members of the family to await placement again for that evening. This could involve waiting all day, and caused homeless children to miss school.

On October 23, 2004, Judge Arthur D. Spatt for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York granted class certification and denied the Defendants’ motion to dismiss. The classes were defined as follows:

Class A: All school-aged children (as defined by New York State Education Law) who, on or after September 1, 2001:(1) have lived, are living or will live in Suffolk County, New York; and (2) during such period have been, are, or will be “homeless” as defined in the McKinney–Vento Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11434A.

Class B: All parents, guardians or persons in a parental relationship for children in Class A, who, on or after September 1, 2001:(1) have lived, are living or will live in Suffolk County, New York; and (2) during such period have been, are, or will be “homeless” as defined in the McKinney–Vento Act, 42 U.S.C. § 11434A. 224 F.R.D. 314.

From the docket it is unclear when settlement discussions began, but on June 25, 2004, eleven of the School District Defendants and the Plaintiffs notified the court that they had agreed in principle to settle the case and requested that the court suspend all deadlines related to the School District Defendants.

On October 7, 2004, Judge Spatt approved the Plaintiffs’ and School District Defendants’ Settlement Agreement and Consent Order. The School District Defendants denied the Plaintiffs’ allegations, but nevertheless agreed to substantially comply with the terms, which involved (1) providing information to homeless children and families, (2) identification of homeless children, (3) transportation of homeless children, (4) coordination with the State Defendants and Social Services Defendants, (5) appeals and dispute resolution, (6) training of school personnel, (7) evaluation and assessment, (8) provision of Compliance Reports, at least semi-annually, by each School District Defendant, and (9) revision of any policies that served as barriers to the enrollment and retention of homeless children in school. The Plaintiffs waived their claims to attorneys’ fees or costs up until the date of the order, but reserved the right to seek them after the date should further litigation be required to enforce the provisions of the order. The order was effective for three years, and the case would be dismissed upon three years’ substantial compliance.

On March 31, 2006, Judge Spatt approved the Plaintiffs’ and State (OTDA and NYSED) Defendants’ Settlement Agreement and a Consent Order, and closed the case. The State Defendants agreed to pay Plaintiffs’ attorneys fees (in the amount of $378,291.33). The order obligated both the OTDA and NYSED to (1) collaborate with other Defendants, (2) revise any of their policies as necessary to comply with the Order, and (3) submit written Compliance Reports biannually for the first year and once annually thereafter. Additionally, the OTDA was required to (1) issue and/or revise administrative guidance to SCDSS and other social services agencies, (2) monitor SCDSS’ provision of school transportation to homeless children and develop a Corrective Action Plan, if necessary and (2) provide training to SCDSS staff. The NYSED was also obligated to (1) revise its appeals process to eliminate barriers to appealing, (2) implement data collection and analysis initiatives, (3) monitor the fourteen School District Defendants and sixteen other districts with significant homeless populations (i.e., more than 25 homeless students at any one time), (4) enforce compliance within the school districts, and (5) train all school district or local social services agency personnel likely to have contact with homeless children and their families. The order was to remain in effect through and including October 1, 2008, when it would be dismissed upon substantial compliance.

Also on March 31, 2006, Judge Spatt approved the Plaintiffs’ and County (SCDSS and its employees) Defendants’ Settlement Agreement and Consent Order. The Defendants denied wrongdoing, but the parties agree that the Plaintiffs would receive attorneys’ fees (amount unspecified). The Order’s requirements for the County Defendants involved (1) providing information to homeless children and families, (2) making all reasonable efforts to provide homeless children with transportation to and from school, (3) discontinuing their policy of requiring homeless children to be physically present with their families to obtain emergency housing, (4) monitoring (to be conducted by OTDA and an SCDSS personnel member designated as a Compliance Officer) and data collection (5) coordinating with the other Defendants to ensure that homeless children enroll in and stay in school, (6) appeals and dispute resolution, (7) providing Compliance Reports semi-annually in the first year and once annually thereafter, and (8) revising any policies necessary to comply with the Order. The Order was to remain in effect through and including March 1, 2008, when it would be dismissed upon substantial compliance.

The case is now closed.

Elizabeth Greiter - 10/13/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Benefit Source
Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 11301 et seq.
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Content of Injunction
Busing
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Required disclosure
Training
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Disability
disability, unspecified
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Education
Placement in shelters
Poverty/homelessness
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) Amityville School District
Bay Shore Union Free School District
Brentwood School District
Central Islip School District
Copiague Union Free School District
Hampton Bays School District
John Doe School Districts 1-10
Longwood Central School District
Medford School District
Middle Country School District
New York State Education Department and its employees
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance
North Babylon School District
Riverhead School District
South Country School District
South Huntington School District
Suffolk County Department of Social Services and its employees
William Floyd School District
Plaintiff Description All school-aged children who, on or after September 1, 2001:(1) have lived, are living or will live in Suffolk County, New York; and (2) during such period have been, are, or will be “homeless” as defined in the McKinney–Vento Act, and all parents, guardians or persons in a parental relationship for such children, and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Attorneys fees
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree
Order Duration 2004 - 2008
Case Closing Year 2008
Case Ongoing No
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)
2:04-cv-00705-ADS-ARL (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/16/2008
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint For Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
ED-NY-0017-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/20/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Consent Order [ECF# 133] (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/07/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum of Decision and Order [ECF# 126] (224 F.R.D. 314) (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 10/23/2004
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Consent Order Between Plaintiffs and State Defendants [ECF# 150] (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Settlement Agreement and Consent Order Between Plaintiffs and County Defendants [ECF# 151] (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/31/2006
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Lindsay, Arlene Rosario (E.D.N.Y.) [Magistrate]
ED-NY-0017-9000
Spatt, Arthur Donald (E.D.N.Y.)
ED-NY-0017-0002 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berger, Deborah R. (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0001 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Brunetti, Cheryl R. (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Clark, Courtney A. (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Foscarinis, Maria (District of Columbia)
ED-NY-0017-0001 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Garvey, Christopher J (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0001 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Nee, Christopher (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Parise, Jessica S (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Simes, Jeffrey A (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0001 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Sozinho, Sozi T (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Wasserman, Lewis M. (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0001 | ED-NY-0017-0003 | ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Weinberger, Karen E (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Yanchar, Georgia E (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Yousey, Jeffrey R (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cimino, Robert J. (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Connolly, Susan M (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0004 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Hingerton, Patricia M (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Malhotra, Sanjay B (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
McNamara, Jennifer K (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0005 | ED-NY-0017-9000
Pack, Lori L (New York)
ED-NY-0017-9000
Spitzer, Eliot (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0004
Termini, Chris (New York)
ED-NY-0017-0005

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