National Center for Youth Law

STRATEGIES

Leonard v. Wagner

Plaintiffs alleged that California’s “completion rule,” which allows foster youth to stay in placement and continue to receive funding after their 18th birthday only if they are expected to graduate high school by their 19th birthday, discriminates against foster youth with disabilities. Youth expected to graduate can continue to receive funding and services until they turn 19; other youth are exited from the foster care system on their 18th birthday. The complaint noted that California’s law violates both federal and state disability laws by not providing equal protection for disabled youth who will not complete high school by age 19 because of their disability.

Overview

FILE NO., COURT, AND DATE FILED

CPF-07-507449 (S.F. Super. Ct., July 25, 2007)

ATTORNEYS FOR PLAINTIFFS

Angela Schwartz
The Alliance for Children’s Rights
500 Washington Street, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
(415) 568-9803
a.schwartz@kids-alliance.org

Alice Bussiere
Corene Kendrick
Youth Law Center
200 Pine Street, Suite 300
San Francisco, CA 94101
(415) 543-3379
Fax: (415) 956-9022
abussiere@ylc.org

Richard Rothschild
Western Center on Law and Poverty
3701 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 208
Los Angeles, CA 90010-2809
(213) 487-7211

 

HISTORY AND STATUS

Plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in July 2007 in San Francisco Superior Court. Defendants immediately petitioned to move the case to federal court and bring in a third-party defendant. Plaintiffs moved to remand the case to state court, and their motion was granted in January 2008. Defendants’ motions were denied without prejudice with the federal court ruling that it did not have jurisdiction.
On June 4, 2009, the state court judge ruled that the completion rule does not comply with California disability laws and ordered the State to develop and submit to the court a plan to address the disparate impact of the completion rule. The parties were also ordered to confer and create an appropriate time line for the State to propose and implement the new procedures.  Defendants have appealed the state court decision, and oral argument was held on August 9, 2010.