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Case Name R. v. Connecticut State Board of Education ED-CT-0008
Docket / Court 3:16-cv-01197 ( D. Conn. )
State/Territory Connecticut
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Education
Case Summary
This class action suit is about the legality of Connecticut’s age limitations in special education. On July 15, 2016, a 21-year-old individual with a disability filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiff sued the Connecticut State ... read more >
This class action suit is about the legality of Connecticut’s age limitations in special education. On July 15, 2016, a 21-year-old individual with a disability filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut. The plaintiff sued the Connecticut State Board of Education (the Board) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a). Represented by Disability Rights Connecticut, the plaintiff sought declaratory and injunctive relief as well as compensatory damages and attorney’s fees.

The plaintiff alleged that Connecticut’s laws violated his right to free and appropriate public education (FAPE) guaranteed under the IDEA. States that receive funding for public special education under the IDEA are required to offer FAPE to individuals with disabilities until they turn 22 years of age unless the state maintains a maximum age limitation across all public education. Connecticut’s laws (Conn. Gen. Stat § 10-76d(b) and Conn. Agencies Reg. § 10-76d-1(a)(4)) limit special education in public schools to children under the age of 21 or to those who have not received a high school diploma, whichever occurs first; however, the state does not establish an age limitation for general education.

The case was assigned to Judge Charles S. Haight. After numerous extensions, the Board responded to the plaintiff's compliant in February 2017, and on September 1, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion to certify a class. On September 14, 2017, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgement, and on November 8, 2017, the Board cross-moved for summary judgement.

On July 20, 2018, the court denied the pending motions in order to first address the plaintiff’s standing (the individual had graduated prior to filing the suit). To address the jurisdictional issue, on April 5, 2019, counsel for the proposed plaintiff class filed an amended complaint and a renewed motion to certify a class with a new plaintiff, a 19-year-old individual who received FAPE under IDEA and had not graduated from high school.

On May 1, 2020, the court certified a class for injunctive and declaratory relief under Rule 23(b)(2) and for compensatory education under Rule 23(b)(3) defined as “all individuals who were over 21 and under 22 within two years before the filing of this action or will turn 21 during the pendency of this action who are provided or were provided a FAPE under the IDEA by any [Local Education Agency (LEA)] in the State of Connecticut and who, but for turning 21, would otherwise qualify or would have qualified for a FAPE until age 22 because they have not or had not yet earned a regular high school diploma.” 2020 WL 2092650.

On June 10, 2019, the court granted the individual’s motion for summary judgement and denied the Board’s cross motion, stating that the Board’s systemic denial of FAPE to individuals with disabilities between 21 and 22 years of age constituted a gross violation of the IDEA. 2020 WL 3086032.

On July 9, 2020, the Board requested a stay, and on July 10, 2020, the court denied the stay and enjoined the termination of FAPE to members of the class prior to them turning 22 years of age.

The Board appealed on July 10, 2020. On July 24, 2020, the plaintiffs filed a motion for attorney's fees and on July 31, 2020, the Board filed a motion to stay the fees motion. On August 4, 2020, the court granted a stay pending the appeal.

The appeal was assigned USCA Case Number 20-2255 and is ongoing.

Zofia Peach - 10/09/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Content of Injunction
Discrimination Prohibition
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-area
Accommodation / Leave
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Disparate Impact
Disparate Treatment
Education
Government Services (specify)
School/University policies
Special education
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Learning disability
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Defendant(s) Connecticut State Board of Education
Plaintiff Description Students with disabilities on behalf of a class of "All individuals who were over 21 and under 22 within two years before the filing of this action or will turn 21 during the pendency of this action who are provided or were provided a FAPE under the IDEA by any [Local Education Agency (LEA)] in the State of Connecticut and who, but for turning 21, would otherwise qualify or would have qualified for a FAPE until age 22 because they have not or had not yet earned a regular high school diploma."
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 2020 - n/a
Filed 07/15/2016
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
3:16-cv-01197-CSH (D. Conn.)
ED-CT-0008-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 09/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 1]
ED-CT-0008-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/15/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Class Action Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive [ECF# 64]
ED-CT-0008-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/05/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on Plaintiff's Motion to Certify Class [ECF# 70] (2020 WL 2092650) (D. Conn.)
ED-CT-0008-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 05/01/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Ruling on the Parties' Cross Motions for Summary Judgment [ECF# 71] (2020 WL 3086032) (D. Conn.)
ED-CT-0008-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Permanent Injunction Judgment and Order [ECF# 81] (D. Conn.)
ED-CT-0008-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/10/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Garfinkel, William I. (D. Conn.) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-9000
Haight, Charles Sherman Jr. (S.D.N.Y.) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-0003 | ED-CT-0008-0004 | ED-CT-0008-0005 | ED-CT-0008-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Alisberg, Nancy B. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-0001 | ED-CT-0008-9000
Considine, Kasey (Connecticut) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-9000
Cushman, Catherine E. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-0002 | ED-CT-0008-9000
Deyoe, Sonja L (Rhode Island) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-0001 | ED-CT-0008-0002 | ED-CT-0008-9000
Kim, Jason H (California) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-0001 | ED-CT-0008-0002 | ED-CT-0008-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Cunningham, Darren P (Connecticut) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-9000
Urban, Ralph E. (Connecticut) show/hide docs
ED-CT-0008-9000

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