Case: PARC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

2:71-cv-00042 | U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Filed Date: Jan. 7, 1971

Closed Date: July 20, 1982

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Case Summary

On January 7, 1971, several children with mental disabilities, by and through their parents, filed this class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State Board of Education and several named school districts. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC), sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that certain state laws unconstituti…

On January 7, 1971, several children with mental disabilities, by and through their parents, filed this class-action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the State Board of Education and several named school districts. The plaintiffs, represented by counsel from the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (PARC), sought declaratory and injunctive relief, claiming that certain state laws unconstitutionally denied a free publicly funded education to children with mental disabilities. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the named school districts unfairly classified certain students as "uneducable and untrainable," and also denied public education to students who did not reach the mental capacity of a 5-year-old by the time they turned 8 years old.

On October 8, 1971, the court entered a consent decree agreed to by the parties, which declared several state laws unconstitutional, and required the state to evaluate and place all students with mental disabilities ages 6-21 in a proper publicly funded educational setting. PARC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 334 F. Supp. 1257 (E.D. Pa. 1971). The court appointed a monitor and retained jurisdiction for enforcement of the consent decree. On May 5, 1972, the parties made minor adjustments to the consent decree without changing its basic framework. PARC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, 343 F. Supp. 279 (E.D. Pa. 1972).

Pursuant to the consent decree, this case was closed on October 15, 1972.

However, on October 19, 1976, the parties met as a result of a new complaint filed by the plaintiffs for enforcement of the 1971 consent decree. The parties reached a settlement, which included terms of transportation for students of two schools. On October 26, 1976, the court dismissed the complaint without prejudice. 

A couple months later, two members of the plaintiff class moved to enforce the 1971 consent decree on February 19, 1977. Four days later, PARC moved for a finding of contempt against the defendants. The plaintiffs requested sanctions including compensatory fines and determination of the plaintiffs’ rights under the consent decree. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged the defendants failed to (1) abide by the multi-disciplinary assessment and written prescription requirements of the plan to identify, locate, and evaluate each member of the plaintiff class (COMPILE) and (2) formulate or promulgate the plan to provide a free education and training for the plaintiff class (COMPET). The parties subsequently began discovery. 

On May 14, 1982, the parties filed a proposed settlement agreement. The agreement provided that severely handicapped students would be “provided with a program of education and related services which is conducted in age appropriate schools attended also by non-handicapped students, in natural proportions, by specifically trained teachers and aides.” The proposed settlement was to be completed within three years. 

After a hearing, the court approved the settlement agreement on July 20, 1982, and retained jurisdiction. 

Note: This Consent Decree was the foundation for the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which eventually led to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Summary Authors

Joshua Arocho (7/31/2012)

Stephanie Chin (4/17/2023)

People


Judge(s)

Masterson, Thomas Ambrose (Pennsylvania)

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Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

2:71-cv-00042

Complaint - Class Action

The Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Jan. 7, 1971

Jan. 7, 1971

Complaint

2:71-cv-00042

Order, Injunction and Consent Agreement

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Oct. 8, 1971

Oct. 8, 1971

Order/Opinion

334 F.Supp. 334

2:71-cv-00042

Opinion, Order and Injunction

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

May 5, 1972

May 5, 1972

Order/Opinion

343 F.Supp. 343

2:71-cv-00042

Order and Injunction

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

May 5, 1972

May 5, 1972

Order/Opinion

2:71-cv-00042

Memorandum and Order

The Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Oct. 26, 1976

Oct. 26, 1976

Order/Opinion

2:71-cv-00042

Petition of Walter and David Fialkowski for Enforcement of Orders and for Sanctions including Compensatory Fine and for Determination of Plaintiffs including Compensatory Fine and for Determination of Plaintiffs' Rights under Paragraph 45 of the Amended Consent Agreement

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Feb. 19, 1977

Feb. 19, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

2:71-cv-00042

Memorandum in Support of Petition of Walter Fialkowski for Enforcement of Orders and for Sanctions Including Compensatory Fine and for Determination of Plaintiffs' Rights under Paragraph 45 of the Amended Consent Agreement

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Feb. 19, 1977

Feb. 19, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

2:71-cv-00042

Notice of Motion & Motion of the Philadelphia Association for Retarded Citizens, John Garret Armstrong, et al., for a Finding of Contempt Against the School District of Philadelphia, for Enforcement of Orders, for Sanctionsm, and for Other Relief

The Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Feb. 23, 1977

Feb. 23, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

2:71-cv-00042

Memorandum in Support of Motion

The Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Feb. 23, 1977

Feb. 23, 1977

Pleading / Motion / Brief

2:71-cv-00042

Motion to Compel Production of Documents

Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Feb. 26, 1980

Feb. 26, 1980

Pleading / Motion / Brief

Resources

Docket

Last updated May 4, 2024, 3:07 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Pennsylvania

Case Type(s):

Education

Disability Rights

Key Dates

Filing Date: Jan. 7, 1971

Closing Date: July 20, 1982

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All mentally retarded persons, residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, who have been, are being, or may be denied access to a free public program of education and training while they are, or were, less than twenty-one years of age.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania , State

13 Named School Districts, School District

State Board of Education, State

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Facility Type(s):

Government-run

Case Details

Causes of Action:

State law

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Available Documents:

Complaint (any)

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Content of Injunction:

Implement complaint/dispute resolution process

Monitor/Master

Recordkeeping

Monitoring

Goals (e.g., for hiring, admissions)

Issues

General/Misc.:

Classification / placement

Individualized planning

Disability and Disability Rights:

Mental impairment

Special education

Medical/Mental Health Care:

Intellectual/Developmental Disability