Children’s Rights, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP and the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law filed T.H. v. DeKalb County School District against the DeKalb County School District (DCSD), the Georgia Department of Education, and the DeKalb County Sheriffs’ Office, along with associated state officials are named as defendants. The lawsuit is being brought on behalf of incarcerated youth aged 17 through 21 with a qualifying disability who have a right to special education services and accommodations.
The DeKalb County Jail is one of the largest detention facilities in the nation. The jail processes approximately 33,000 people annually, including youth as young as 17. Many of these youth are eligible for special education services.
Children’s Rights and its partners assert that youth like named plaintiff T.H. do not receive special education services while in the DeKalb County Jail, in violation of their rights. According to the complaint, DCSD and other defendants have “failed to create even the most rudimentary systems necessary to identify and evaluate those who might need special education, provide them with timely education planning, or ensure that adequate services are available.”
The lawsuit calls on the court to affirm that defendants are violating federal statutes, and order them to develop a system, including policies, procedures, and adequate staffing, to ensure the delivery of special education services to eligible students.
T.H. is 17 years old. Like all youth aged 17 through 21 with a qualifying disability, T.H. is entitled by federal law to a free and appropriate public education.
T.H. was initially detained at the jail on November 2, 2018. After he was released on November 21, he was detained again on December 4, 2018 and has remained in detention ever since.
At no point before our complaint was filed did defendants provide T.H. with disability-related special education services or services in accordance with his Section 504 Plan or in accordance with an Individualized Education Program (an “IEP”).