Filed Date: Jan. 7, 1971
Closed Date: July 20, 1982
Clearinghouse coding complete
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.
Joshua Arocho (7/31/2012)
Stephanie Chin (4/17/2023)
Masterson, Thomas Ambrose (Pennsylvania)
Masterson, Thomas Ambrose (Pennsylvania)
Last updated June 29, 2023, 3:12 a.m.Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.
State / Territory: Pennsylvania
Filing Date: Jan. 7, 1971
Closing Date: July 20, 1982
Case Ongoing: No
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.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: Yes
Class Action Outcome: Granted
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Plaintiff
Nature of Relief:
Source of Relief:
Form of Settlement:
Content of Injunction:
Type of Facility: