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Crosscurrents logo 2021

Lead Plaintiff In Landmark Lawsuit Gets 2nd Chance At Education — At Age 60

Lee Romney
Darryl Lester, whose pseudonym was "Larry P." in a landmark special ed lawsuit filed in 1971, is greeted warmly by school psychologists at the October 2019 fall convention of the California Association of School Psychologists.

This is part of an ongoing series “Learning While Black: The Fight For Equity In San Francisco Schools.”

It’s been 40 years since a landmark legal ruling led to a statewide ban on the IQ testing of black students for purposes of placement in special ed. Now, the lead plaintiff in that case, known as “Larry P,” is getting a second chance at an education.

Back in 1979, a federal judge banned California school districts from administering IQ tests to black students to determine whether they belong in special ed. In his ruling, the judge called the tests culturally biased and said districts were using them to channel too many black kids into dead-end classes. That ban is still in place. No other state has one. So the “Larry P” case, named after the lead plaintiff, is well-known.

But, until we tracked down the real “Larry P,” no one knew what had become of him. It turns out, “Larry P.” was a pseudonym. His real name is Darryl Lester. And since we aired Darryl's story in January of this year, his life has changed. 

Click the play button above to listen to the full interview.