The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with attorneys from the Southern Disability Law Center and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, obtained a class-wide settlement agreement affecting all special education students with Emotional Disturbance in Jefferson Parish.
An African-American teenager was denied school enrollment simply because she was homeless. The Center immediately sued, and "Penny Doe" was soon enrolled in school. The case was settled with officials adopting policies to ensure compliance with federal law.
Concerned about inappropriate services and mental health treatment provided to children placed in Alabama foster care, the Center joined with mental health lawyers and sued in 1988, forcing drastic changes in the ways these cases are handled.
For years, unmined coal in Kentucky was virtually exempt from taxation, leaving Kentucky's public schools and other services grossly underfunded. Fair tax advocates worked with the Center to file suit challenging Kentucky's unfair tax system, resulting in improved regulations.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sought a permanent injunction in 1982 to stop operators of the church-run Bethesda Home for Girls from physically and emotionally abusing the "wayward" girls sent to them for care and instruction.
Although this constitutional challenge to horrific conditions at a juvenile center was filed by other lawyers in 1975, the Center and the Mississippi Center for Justice took over in 2003 to enforce a judgment that had been ignored for more than 25 years.