Mattie T. et al. v. Johnson
In 1975, the original Mattie T. class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of all Mississippi students with disabilities and those suspected of having disabilities. The action challenged the Mississippi Department of Education's (MDE) failure to ensure that local school districts identified, evaluated and provided appropriate educational services to students with disabilities. In 1979, a Consent Decree was entered into by the parties. For over twenty years, the MDE utterly failed to comply with the requirements of the original Decree.
In the fall of 2003, after more than a year of extensive negotiations, the parties entered into a new Consent Decree that will be in effect through 2011. The new Consent Decree requires improvements in the areas of Child Find, Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) and Nondiscriminatory Assessment of Minority Students for Special Education. The MDE has hired two national experts to assist the state in implementing the Consent Decree’s requirements. Center attorneys and co-counsel (Southern Disability Law Center) are actively involved in monitoring the state's progress.