Public Justice Advocacy Clinic Works to Expand Preschool Special Education in D.C. Schools

A federal judge ruled in November that the Washington, DC, school system has not fulfilled its duty to provide special education services to its eligible preschool-age children, calling for additional future court oversight because of “persistent failure to live up to their statutory obligations, a failure that works a severe and lasting harm on one of society’s most vulnerable populations—disabled preschool children—is deeply troubling to the court.”

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth is based on the 2005 class-action lawsuit of D.L. v. District of Columbia brought by seven DC children and their parents.

Professor Jeff Gutman and his students in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic devoted many months in 2004 and 2005 to investigating these issues and then crafting a litigation strategy to address the failure of the DC Public Schools to provide special education services to preschool-aged children. Professor Gutman and his students drafted the complaint and Professor Gutman has remained one of the class counsel in this case.

“This outcome is a significant victory on behalf of some of the most vulnerable individuals in our local community, and Jeff and his students—now our alumni—deserve high praise indeed,” said Dean Paul Schiff Berman.

Students in the Public Justice Advocacy Clinic represent low-income clients in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the District of Columbia Superior Court, and the DC Office of Administrative Hearings.  It is part of the GW Jacob Burns Community Legal Clinics—currently celebrating 40 years of serving the DC community.

For more on this case and ruling, visit The Washington Post.


Spotlight Item: Professor Jeffrey Gutman with students in his Public Justice Advocacy Clinic.

Professor Jeffrey Gutman with students in his Public Justice Advocacy Clinic.

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