SCUSD and Black Parallel School Board Settle Lawsuit Over Special Education Practices

Press release

Sacramento, CA - The Sacramento City Unified School District announced Monday an agreement to foster greater accountability and improve Special Education services and school disciplinary practices for all students, particularly those with disabilities.

The agreement settles a lawsuit brought by Black Parallel School Board (BPSB) in 2019 alleging segregation of special education students and other exclusionary practices, which disproportionately impacted Black/African-American students. At the time the lawsuit was brought, the SCUSD Board of Education determined that the shared interest in serving and improving the educational experience of students with disabilities and specifically Black students with disabilities justified immediately seeking to cooperate with BPSB and its attorneys to reach a productive settlement.

“This is an important day for the future of Sac City Unified and our commitment to meeting the social, emotional and academic needs of all students, and uniquely so, our Black/ African-American students with disabilities. We are proud of the work the District has already done to be more inclusive and less punitive and we look forward to partnering with Black Parallel School Board to produce better student outcomes moving forward,” said SCUSD Superintendent Jorge A. Aguilar.

The agreement with BPSB calls for the appointment of an independent monitor to create an action plan to drive the implementation of policy, procedure, and data practices, with the intended direct benefit to special education students of the District, and in particular Black students with disabilities – although the improvements resulting from the action plan will undoubtedly benefit all SCUSD students.

“The independent monitor will help us better identify areas for improvement within the system and correct the implicit bias and exclusionary discipline that can disproportionately and negatively impact students with disabilities,” said Aguilar.

“The settlement announced today represents a step forward in our district’s quest to increase equity while improving outcomes for all students, particularly our students with disabilities,” said SCUSD Board President Chinua Rhodes. “Our students benefit from community partnerships that reinforce district-wide accountability for progress toward shared goals. We appreciate the Black Parallel School Board’s deep concern for Sac City Unified students and the collaboration that led to this agreement.”

In addition to the large-scale action plan resulting from the settlement, there are additional short-term measures that will take place on a quicker timeline, including:

  • A Town Hall meeting conducted jointly by the District and BPSB to discuss the settlement and its goals;
  • The passage of a Board of Education Resolution on Recognition of the Rights of Students with Disabilities;
  • A commitment to specific data review practices; and
  • Further implementation of existing de-escalation practices and training.

The District appreciates the collaboration of Black Parallel School Board and its attorneys in working through the settlement process in this case – which took many years, largely due to impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The end result is an agreement with the best interest of Sac City Unified students in mind, and especially some of the District’s most vulnerable.

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