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Disability Rights Legal Center Newsletter
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DRLC Newsletter

Friday, October 7, 2011

DRLC Fights District's Efforts to Circumvent Special Ed Laws 


On Wednesday, October 5, Disability Rights Legal Center filed its second lawsuit against the Riverside Unified School District for pressuring parents into signing away their children's rights under special education laws. This second lawsuit shows that the district has made a practice of this conduct. Moreover, other parents of children with special needs in the district have complained about being misled and coerced into signing these backdoor settlements.


Parents were told in surprise meetings without their lawyers present that if they signed a confidential agreement, their child would receive the placement and services they requested, but would have to waive their rights to change or add to their child's program for one year. This kind of "take it or leave it" backdoor deal violates special education and discrimination laws, and undermines the Individualized Education Program, which was created to ensure meaningful parental participation in their child's educational programs.


The cases B.K.M., et al. v. Riverside Unified School District, et al. and Y.G., et al. v. Riverside Unified School District et al. EDCV 10-01002 (CAS)(OPx), were filed in the United States District Court, Central District of California. B.K.M. is a ten-year-old student with Asperger's Syndrome. Y.G. is a thirteen-year-old student with a severe language and visual impairments.


The families are asking the court to declare these agreements unenforceable, to order the district to end this illegal practice, and to compensate the children with the special education services they lost because of the district's misconduct

KCET Reports on DRLC's Action to Make L.A. Accessible   

  Screen Capture of Show Me the Money: Sidewalks story online

KCET interviewed DLRC Legal Director Shawna Parks for Show Me The Money: Sidewalks. Correspondent Vince Gonzales investigates why almost half of Los Angeles' sidewalks are in disrepair, who is responsible and what can be done to fix them. The Disability Rights Legal Center, and co-counsel Schneider Wallace LLP, filed a class action lawsuit in August 2010 against the city for discriminating against hundreds of thousands of people with mobility disabilities by denying them meaningful access to the pedestrian rights-of-way. The lawsuit, Willits, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, demands that the city not only fix broken sidewalks but also install curb ramps where needed and replace bus stop benches and light poles that obstruct wheelchairs and other mobility aids. The "Sidewalks" story aired on September 30 as part of the station's SoCal Connected Program.  

Maggie Hui Shares Resources at Fiesta Educativa Conference

   Fiesta Educativa logo

Maggie Hui, the DRLC's Community Outreach Coordinator, attended Fiesta Educativa Inc.'s  33rd Annual Statewide Conference that brought together advocates and families of children with special needs. The conference, held at the California Endowment Center in Los Angeles on September 29, was entitled "Creating Change and Hope through Self-Advocacy." Presentations covered the following topics: Learning Disabilities/Mental Health; Transition to Career and Higher Education; Legal Considerations and Protections; Special Education; Autism Spectrum Disorders; and Legal Clinics. Ms. Hui distributed useful information regarding the DRLC's programs including the Education Advocacy Program and Education Advocacy Manuals.  

Outreach Director Gives Training at Family Services Center  Canyon Acres logo

John Villar de Longoria, Director of the DRLC Community Outreach Program, conducted a training at the Canyon Acres Children and Family Services on September 29.
Canyon Acres Children and Family Services is a nonprofit organization committed to providing homes, care, treatment and supportive services for abused, neglected and emotionally troubled children and their families. Mr. Villar de Longoria trained forty staff and volunteers on Disability Sensitivity and Etiquette to help them better communicate with families and individuals who have disabilities

UCLA Makes Campus More Accessible in Response to DRLC   


Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library
Hugh and Hazel Darling
Law Library

The University of California Los Angeles is making its campus more accessible because of DRLC advocacy. Options Counseling Program conducted a brief service for an individual with mobility disabilities who is also a leukemia survivor. He lives on the West Side of Los Angeles and enjoys spending time in the Hugh and Hazel Darling Law Library. Because of his disabilities the law library door is too heavy for him to open without assistance; he also has trouble navigating paths to the library from the bus stop. Summer intern Cassie Licker from Loyola Law School wrote a brief service letter on the caller's behalf, and UCLA agreed to install automatic doors to the library entrance and is continuing to investigate additional accessibility issues on the campus. Melissa Bass, a volunteer attorney with the DRLC, met with the UCLA office of Students with Disabilities and confirmed that the university will make these changes.  

How to Help   

Shop at Ralphs and Defend Rights of People with Disabilities  
Ralph's Community Contributions Program logo

Thank you so much for championing the rights of people with disabilities by supporting the DRLC through Ralphs Community Contribution Program. The new program year began on September 1, 2011. Even if you are currently registered as a member, you must register again. The DRLC uses every dollar donated from this program to serve people with disabilities. Please visit www.ralphs.com  to both re-register and to register.

Champion the Rights of People with Disabilities by Shopping, Searching Online  


You can support the work of the Disability Rights Legal Center simply by shopping and searching online. Become an iGive member and choose the DRLC as one of the causes you support, then click on an iGive link to one of the almost one thousand participating retailers, including Amazon.com, Bed Bath & Beyond, DisneyStore.com, eBay, Expedia.com, Hotwire.com, Macy's, NORDSTROM.com, Overstock.com, ProFlowers, Sport Chalet, Travelocity. You will not pay more for products, rather the companies give a listed percentage of the purchase to your cause. There are no obligations or hidden fees. Causes always receive 100% of the donation amount advertised on iGive's website. You can also contribute to the DRLC simply by using iGive's search engine. Go to iGive.com to sign up.


The online credit card donation feature is available on the Make a Donation page of the DRLC website. This quick and easy function can be used for general donations.  



Visit the How You Can Help page of our website to volunteer as a pro bono attorney on a disability rights case, work as a student law clerk or assist with intake and administrative responsibilities.


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DRLC Staff Photo August 2010

Disability Rights Legal Center Staff Photo August 2010