National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Jocelyn B. v. California Dept. of Education

Plaintiffs, four siblings in foster care who were students in the Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD), filed suit against the California Department of Education (CDE), PUSD, Hillsides Home for Children, Hillsides Education Center, and several individuals affiliated with each entity.

Plaintiffs alleged that upon being placed at Hillsides Home, they were enrolled at the Hillsides Education Center, a non-public school serving severely emotionally disturbed children. They were enrolled at Hillsides in spite of the fact that Plaintiffs formerly attended public schools, were not disabled or not significantly disabled, and were not tested to assess their level of disability (or lack thereof). Plaintiffs allege that PUSD failed to serve their interests in failing to appoint proper surrogate parents to protect their education rights, but rather appointed Hillsides Homes affiliates, who had an interest in placing students at the Hillsides Education Center. These education surrogates failed to meet with plaintiffs or attend required meetings. PUSD and Hillsides also failed to create proper IEPs in compliance with the law. Plaintiffs allege PUSD was aware of Hillsides’ practice of improperly enrolling non-disabled students in its non-public schools, for which Hillsides received federal funding.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

2:06-cv-04067-R-MAN, District Court for the Central District of California, October 7, 2004

 

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Charles E. Patterson, Elizabeth Lauren Arnault, Skye H. Donald
Morrison and Foerster LLP
707 Wilshire Boulevard
Suite 6000
Los Angeles, CA 90017-3543
213-892-5200

Ines Kuperschmit, Janeen Steel
Learning Rights Law Center
205 South Broadway Street Suite 1008
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-489-4037

Paul Freese, Laura Faer
Public Counsel Law Center
610 South Ardmore Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90005
213-385-2977

 

HISTORY AND STATUS

Plaintiffs first filed a compliance complaint against PUSD for failing to appoint proper educational surrogates for foster youth. The CDE ordered corrective actions against PUSD. On December 23, 2004, plaintiffs filed a second compliance complaint regarding PUSD’s failure to comply with the necessary procedures for placing students in non-public schools.  The CDE found PUSD was out of compliance with the law, and ordered corrective actions.

Plaintiffs alleged that PUSD failed to implement most of the corrective actions that the CDE ordered and that the CDE waived, failed to enforce, and failed to monitor PUSD’s compliance with its orders. As a result, Plaintiffs filed a complaint against PUSD, CDE and several individual affiliates on June 27, 2006, for CDE’s failure to enforce and PUSD’s failure to enact the corrective actions ordered in 2004.

Plaintiffs sought relief under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400; the California Education Code § 5600; the Americans with Disabilities Act, 20 U.S.C. § 12101; the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, U.S.C. § 974; the California Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal Civ. Code § 51; the California Government Code § 11135; 42 U.S.C. § 1985, and under a negligence cause of action.  Plaintiffs sought injunctive relief, as well as damages and attorneys fees.

On October 2, 2006, the court dismissed Plaintiff’s complaint for failure to comply with rule 8(a), but granted plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint.  The court also granted Defendants’ motion to strike plaintiffs’ prayer for damages under the IDEA, but denied Defendants’ motion to strike any other prayers for relief.  Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint on November 1, 2006.

Plaintiffs and Hillsides defendants agreed to enter into settlement negotiations on July 10, 2007. Plaintiffs Jocelyn B., Josh B., Andrew B., and Amanda B. were each awarded a total of $37,500 (including attorneys’ costs and fees) from Defendants Hillsides Home, Hillsides Education Center, John Hitchcock and Kerry Weber. The settlement was signed and approved by Judge Real on July 11, 2008, and the minor’s compromise[1] (filed under seal) was approved and signed on August 8, 2008.

[1] Claims against the district and state seem to have been resolved within the sealed minor’s compromise, as there is no further information about those claims in the docket.