This week, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia granted an unopposed motion to certify T.H. v. DeKalb County School District as a class action. The decision is the first of its kind in the 11th Circuit establishing that a class can proceed on behalf of incarcerated youth with disabilities within a county jail under federal law.
In November a federal judge in Atlanta granted preliminary approval for a negotiated settlement under which the DeKalb County School District and its superintendent will develop a system, including policies, procedures, and adequate staffing to deliver special education services to eligible students, estimated at 40% of detainees under age 22 in the DeKalb County Jail. The case was filed in 2019 by Children’s Rights, Bondurant Mixson & Elmore, LLP, and the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law.
Christina Wilson Remlin, lead counsel for Children’s Rights, and Randee Waldman, Director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic issued the following statements:
“We are very pleased that the court’s decision affirms our ability to proceed as a class action,” said Christina Wilson Remlin, lead counsel at Children’s Rights. “This decision allows us to represent not just our clients but the hundreds of other students like them who pass through the DeKalb County Jail each year and have a right to special education.”
“We have already begun to see special education services put in place for the Named Plaintiffs we represent, bringing them the joy of learning and hope for a better future,” said Randee Waldman, Director of the Barton Juvenile Defender Clinic at Emory University School of Law. “The court’s decision to affirm the class brings that hope to all eligible incarcerated students who we now officially represent.”