Black Parallel School Board et al. v. Sacramento City Unified School District

Cases

Community Input

We are asking members of the community to share their experiences in the Sacramento City Unified School District related to the issues in this case. If you would like to share, please use this form to tell us about your experience in the District or call DRC’s confidential intake line at: 1-800-776-5746 or TTY call: 1-800-719-5798 available 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

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Background

In September 2019, the Black Parallel School Board and three students filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento City Unified School District (District). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of all students with disabilities in the District. The lawsuit claims the District discriminated against these students based on disability and race.

The lawsuit is about these key problems:

  • Segregation of students with disabilities, especially Black students with disabilities;
  • Failure to provide necessary services and supports to students with disabilities, especially Black students with disabilities;
  • Suspension of students for disability-based behavior, especially Black students with disabilities; and
  • Bullying and harassment due to students’ race and disabilities.

This lawsuit is also against Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar and others responsible for the District.

Case Name: Black Parallel School Board, et al. v. Sacramento City Unified School District, et al.

Case Number: 2:19−CV−01768−TLN−KJN

Co-Counsel: Equal Justice Society, National Center for Youth Law, and Western Center on Law & Poverty

Plaintiffs

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit is the Black Parallel School Board (BPSB). Founded in 2008, the BPSB is a community-based membership organization that supports the educational growth and achievement of Black children, primarily those attending SCUSD. The plaintiffs also include three Black students with disabilities who experienced discrimination based on race and disability at SCUSD, including the following:

  1. When C.S. had disability-based behavior problems, the District shortened his school day, denying him valuable educational opportunities, and eventually suspended him entirely.
  2. When S.A. was called racial slurs, the District failed to respond meaningfully and also sent him home repeatedly for disability-based behaviors.
  3. When K.E. experienced homophobic, racial and disability-based harassment at his school, the District also failed to address the toxic school environment and instead moved him to a segregated, non-public school, away from his peers and regular education programs.

Current Status

Experts Will Examine the District and Make Recommendations

As a first step, BPSB and the three students have come to a partial agreement with the District. This is called a “Structured Negotiations Agreement". A link to the agreement is below. The District agreed to hire experts to review the District and report back. The experts will review the problems raised in the lawsuit about discrimination against students with disabilities, especially Black students with disabilities. The experts will  review the areas of (1) Special Education; (2) School Discipline; and (3) Implicit Bias in the District. The experts will make recommendations after their review. 

The experts will interview parent and student committees familiar with the key issues. The experts will also interview organizations familiar with the key issues. 

The District hired the experts in June 2020. The experts plan to complete their review of the District in four months, with reasonable extensions as-needed. The lawsuit is currently paused to give the experts time to review the District and develop their recommendations. The pause will also give Plaintiffs and the District time to try to resolve the case.

During the Pause, the District has Agreed to Make Some Changes

The District has agreed to take some first steps toward change. Here are some of the steps the District is taking:

  • Remove Certain Suspension Records: If any student grades K-3 was suspended for “Willful Defiance” or “Creating a Hostile Environment” after August 31, 2017, the District will remove that suspension from the student’s record. The District will notify the parent or guardian of that change.
  • Disability Rights in Suspension Notices: The District’s suspension notice now has a short overview of student’s rights in the discipline process.

You can find the full list of the changes the District has agreed to make  in the Structured Negotiations Agreement on page 15.

Structured Negotiations Agreement Exhibit (pdf)

Significant Court Documents

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