Teen Sues Los Angeles Unified School District for Disability Discrimination
Americas, August 1 2013
LOS ANGELES, CA: A Carson High School graduate with cerebral palsy and spastic dysplasia, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, sued his former school district today in federal court, for allegedly repeatedly denying him accessible buses for field trips, road baseball games, and the Grad Night trip to Disneyland. The plaintiff, Edward Martinez of Carson, also alleges that he was segregated in the school library for two weeks while his math class was held without him in an inaccessible upstairs classroom.
Martinez’s lawsuit was filed today in U.S. District Court (case no. CV-13-5298) by his attorney Christopher Knauf of Knauf Associates in Santa Monica. The lawsuit brings claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal laws protecting the civil rights of people with disabilities. The suit notes that it is the second time Martinez has been a plaintiff against LAUSD on the issue of inaccessible transportation. The first lawsuit resulted in a 2012 settlement that included staff training and updating of transportation policies (U.S. District Court case no. CV-10-8034).
Despite the 2012 settlement calling for improved training of school principals throughout LAUSD, and improved written materials relating to accessible transportation for field trips, Martinez alleges that he continued to suffer the indignity of being left behind for various school activities.
“I got through high school and earned my diploma just like all other Carson graduates. But the others weren’t repeatedly left behind for field trips, baseball games, and the final insult – the Grad Night trip to Disneyland,” said Martinez. “Actually, I didn’t get left behind for Disneyland. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I had them lift me out of my wheelchair and carry me on and off the bus, like a little child – it was humiliating, but I was so sick of being left behind, all I wanted was to be with my friends,” he added.
Martinez alleges that throughout his high school experience, he was literally left at the curb by his teachers and classmates, as they pulled away in an inaccessible bus for various field trips dating back to January 2010. Despite being the Carson High baseball team manager and scorekeeper, he could not attend league road games on his teammates’ bus. “It was infuriating, for both Eddie and me,” states his father, Oscar Martinez. “We asked the school staff repeatedly, ‘Will there be a bus for Eddie?’ and so many times, it never happened. It was heartbreaking.”
Martinez is represented by attorneys Christopher Knauf and Benjamin Goldstein. Knauf Associates (http://www.Goodlaw.biz) is a private public interest law firm specializing in disability rights and special education law. Knauf Associates will make the Martinez family available for interviews upon request.