Thursday, September 24, 2015
Class Action Suit Pending Against Philadelphia District for Failing to Provide Language Translation During IEP Process
Philadelphia parents filed a class action lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia last month, alleging that the district violated special education law requirements by failing to translate documents and to provide sufficient interpretation services during Individualized Education Program meetings. The class alleges that the Philadelphia school district denied parents and students with limited English proficiency (LEP) an opportunity to participate IEPs on the same basis as their English-speaking counterparts. In 2013, the district reportedly received requests from 19,670 families of students who had requested documents in a language other than English; the district interpreted about 487 special education documents of any type that year. The plaintiffs received a due process hearing in May 2015 at which the Hearing Officer found violations of the parents' meaningful participation in the IEP process due to translation issues, required the district to translate IEPs and other documents for the plaintiffs in the future, and awarded compensatory education. However, the Hearing Officer declined to order that the district change its translation policies system-wide, concluding that the requested relief was outside of his powers. The plaintiffs are represented by the Education Law Center. T.R., by and through Barbara Galarza, v. The School District of Philadelphia, 2015 WL 5011332 (E.D.Pa. filed Aug. 21, 2015).