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Case Name G.T. v. Board of Education of Kanawha DR-WV-0001
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-00057 ( S.D. W. Va. )
State/Territory West Virginia
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Attorney Organization Bazelon Center
Case Summary
This is a case challenging the legality of the Kanawha County Schools (KCS) treatment of students with disabilities. On January 24, 2020, a plaintiff who was a third-grade student in the Kanawha County School district, filed this class-action suit against the school district and its superintendent ... read more >
This is a case challenging the legality of the Kanawha County Schools (KCS) treatment of students with disabilities. On January 24, 2020, a plaintiff who was a third-grade student in the Kanawha County School district, filed this class-action suit against the school district and its superintendent. The Arc of West Virginia, an advocacy organization that supports students with disabilities, also joined as a plaintiff. The student had autism and ADHD. The plaintiff had been denied effective behavioral support at his school and had been repeatedly removed from the classroom. The plaintiff sued under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), the West Virginia Human Rights Act, and West Virginia Policy 2419. Judge Irene Berger was assigned to oversee the proceedings.

The plaintiff argued that the school district was failing to comply with the requirement under the IDEA to provide students with disabilities with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The FAPE standard requires "appropriately ambitious" special education, which KCS failed to meet. Similarly, KCS had not met its requirements under the ADA to adjust policies, practices, and procedures as necessary and to provide children with disabilities equal education opportunities. KCS did not have a current system in place to identify and provide resources for students with disabilities and instead used informal and formal removal techniques in response to behavior problems.

The plaintiffs sought class certification for a class consisting of "[a]ll Kanawha County Schools students with disabilities who (1) need but are not receiving behavior supports from KCS, and (2) have experienced disciplinary removals from any classroom." The plaintiffs also sought declaratory and injunctive relief, specifically asking the Court to enjoin the defendants in revising their policies in order to provide effective behavior supports to its students with disabilities, and also provide a monitor to oversee compliance with the court order. Finally, the plaintiffs sought attorneys' fees and costs.

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the claims on March 20, 2020. On April 10, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint, switching the organizational defendant to the Board of Education of the County of Kanawha. The defendants subsequently moved to dismiss the amended complaint, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to exhaust their administrative remedies as required by the IDEA. The defendants also sought to dismiss the Arc of West Virginia from the case, arguing that the organization lacked standing because they did not allege that one of their members required relief.

On July 16, 2020, Judge Irene Berger dismissed the claims against the superintendent but denied the school district's motion to dismiss. 2020 WL 4018285. The Court found that the plaintiffs had alleged systemic violations, and therefore they did not need to exhaust their administrative remedies. The Court also determined that the Arc of West Virginia had associational standing and was permitted to remain in the litigation.

As of October 22, the case remains ongoing.

Gabrielle Simeck - 10/18/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Disability
disability, unspecified
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
General
Education
School/University policies
Special education
Mental Disability
Autism
Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified
Learning 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.
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
State law
Defendant(s) Kanawha County Schools
Superintendent
Plaintiff Description All Kanawha County Schools students with disabilities who need behavior supports and have experienced disciplinary removals from any classroom.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Bazelon Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 01/24/2020
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)
  G.T. v. Kanawha County
bazelon.org
Date: Jan. 27, 2020
By: Bazelon Center
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
S.D. W. Va.
10/01/2020
2:20-cv-00057
DR-WV-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
S.D. W. Va.
01/24/2020
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
DR-WV-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. W. Va.
04/10/2020
First Amended Class Action Complaint [ECF# 22]
DR-WV-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
S.D. W. Va.
07/16/2020
Memorandum Opinion and Order [ECF# 46] (2020 WL 4018285)
DR-WV-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Berger, Irene Cornelia (S.D. W. Va.) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0003 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bossing, Lewis (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Burnim, Ira Abraham (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Do, Kirstin Scheffler (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000
Faris, Michael J (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Hulshizer, Robin M. (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000
Klass, Karen D. (Illinois) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Malkin, Blaire (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Milnes, Lydia C. (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Snyder, Erin (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Wakschlag, Shira (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Waller, Lori Peters (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-0001 | DR-WV-0001-0002 | DR-WV-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Adkins, J. Mark (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000
Boothby, Richard Scott (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000
Smith, William Austin II (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000
Wohl, Gabriele Wohl (West Virginia) show/hide docs
DR-WV-0001-9000

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