National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

J.N. V. Oregon Department of Education

The State of Oregon has effectively denied hundreds of children with disabilities the opportunity to attend school for a full day, in violation of federal laws, the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Rehabilitation Act.

Children in Oregon as young as five- and six-years-old are routinely excluded from attending a full school day with their peers because of their disability-related behaviors. Some of these children receive as little as one or two hours of instruction a day instead of the six hours their classmates typically receive. Even when they are permitted to attend school, their instruction often takes place in a separate classroom where they have little or no opportunity to interact and learn with their non-disabled peers, despite abundant research and evidence that they are far more likely to enjoy academic and social success when allowed to do so.

According to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, under IDEA, Oregon must ensure that all eligible children with disabilities receive an “appropriately ambitious” educational program and “the chance to meet challenging objectives.” The Americans with Disabilities Act and Rehabilitation Act requires Oregon to ensure that all students in the state receive an appropriate education without discrimination based on disability.

This federal class action lawsuit was filed by NCYL, COPAA, Disability Rights Oregon, the Bazelon Center, and pro bono attorneys Peter Simshauser, Stacy Horth-Neubert and Michael Folger. It requests relief for the class by ordering defendants to end discrimination against students with disabilities by implementing policies and practices that ensure Oregon school districts provide free appropriate public education that does not include exclusion of students with disabilities, and provides supports and services that allow all students to access a full day of instruction.