Palm Beach County Special Education
Students with disabilities in Palm Beach County endured a culture of neglect and overly harsh discipline that robbed them of an education and pushed them along a path to incarceration.
The school district failed to provide the counseling, social work and psychological services required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). A significant portion of elementary students with emotional and behavioral disabilities with average intelligence were typically performing years behind their grade level by the time they reached middle school in Palm Beach County.
The Southern Poverty Law Center and a coalition of advocacy groups filed a class action administrative complaint with the Florida Department of Education to bring the schools into compliance with federal special education law and end practices that exclude or isolate children with disabilities.
The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County and the Southern Legal Counsel joined the SPLC in filing the complaint. The Florida State Conference of the NAACP was listed as an organizational complainant. Palm Beach County was the fifth largest school district in Florida and the 11th largest in the United States at the time of the filing.