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ACLU Sues Pittsburg School District Over ‘Separate, Unequal, And Illegal’ Special Education Program

aclu sues.jpg
Clover Autrey
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CC BY 2.0
A student street crossing sign.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the Pittsburg Unified School District on Monday for education discrimination in its special education classes. Outcomes for disabled students in Eastern Contra Costa’s Pittsburg school district are so poor, that the district is essentially denying the students their right to an education according to the lawsuit filed on Monday by the ACLU.

The ACLU claims that the district disproportionately placed Black and Latinx students into special education classes. The suit also alleges that the district’s special-ed classes do not have adequate services and are more likely to suspend or expel their students.

Pittsburg Superintendent Janet Schulze told EdSource that the lawsuit is 'disappointing.' She said that information given in the lawsuit is misleading and does not acknowledge the significant progress the district has made over the past several years to close achievement gaps.

It’s not the first time Pittsburg Unified has come under scrutiny for its special education practices. In 2016, a consultant hired by the district recommended dozens of improvements for how the district educates students with disabilities. The ACLU suit claims the district has not yet adopted many of those recommendations.

Ellen (she/her) has a background in oral history, communication studies, and music. For the past two years, she has worked as a homelessness case manager in South Minneapolis. As a social worker, she got to hear compelling stories from her clients every day and is driven to amplify personal narrative as a source of empowerment and change. In her free time she bikes, plays double bass, and does queer stuff.