City schools special education legal fight ends

The nearly three-decade legal fight that transformed the long-beleaguered special-education system in Baltimore city schools has officially come to an end.

Vaughn G. et al. v. the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, a federal suit filed by the Maryland Disability Law Center in 1984 alleging that city students weren't receiving timely assessments and services to students with disabilities were grossly inadequate, was finally resolved Saturday after a two-year settlement agreement the two entities entered in 2010.

City schools CEO Andrés Alonso said in a statement Thursday that the resolution reflects the system's progress, and the law center "pushed us where we needed pushing."

"The end of the settlement reflects the hard work of so many people over such a long period of time," Alonso said. "While we got much better as a result of Vaughn G., there is still much work to do."

Leslie Margolis, the disability law center's lead attorney for the Vaughn G. lawsuit, said the lawsuit had helped children in the system beyond its original mission, and the district's cooperation holds promise for even more progress.

"Is the school system where it needs to be? No," Margolis said. "But I think one of the signs of progress is that [it] acknowledges that.

"It was time," she added. "I think that we have to see how the city's going to do. And hopefully, everything they're telling us about their commitments is going to happen without the reality of litigation."

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