For Immediate Release: March 9, 2022
Contact for Empire Justice Center:
Maggie R. Robb
Contact for Nixon Peabody LLP:
PRESS RELEASE: Consent Decree Approved in Class Action Disability Suit Against Rochester City School District
March 9, 2022 – Nixon Peabody and Empire Justice Center are honored to announce the federal court has approved an Amended Consent Decree that further resolves claims in a lawsuit brought by a class of students with disabilities in the Rochester City School District and their families to secure the District’s compliance with special education laws. The settlement is an important step in helping Rochester City School District students with disabilities thrive and succeed on an equitable basis. The Decree requires the School District to meet objective goals that demonstrate continual measurable progress in providing timely services, improving achievement and graduation rates, eliminating racial disparities in classification and suspension, and increasing involvement with parents of students with disabilities.
“The heart of this case has always been about helping students with disabilities thrive in Rochester schools. Empire Justice Center took on the case with a singular focus of ensuring that every student with disabilities in the District has meaningful opportunities for success and resources available to them. Now our focus turns to implementation based on the Decree. Years of hard work and collaboration between the parties will see fruition only if the School District continues to faithfully implement changes to achieve the negotiated measures,” said Maggie Robb, Senior Attorney at Empire Justice Center.
“We have been privileged to partner with Empire Justice Center to achieve a settlement that we believe will significantly enhance the equitable education of students with disabilities. Our goal has always been to secure compliance with the law that ensures that these students are provided with a free appropriate public education that is tailored to their individual needs. The years of effort by all parties must continue as the success of this settlement requires that the District make students with disabilities and their families a priority,” said Carolyn Nussbaum of Nixon Peabody LLP, who provided her time and litigation counsel on a pro bono basis.
Empire Justice Center is a statewide, multi-issue, multi-strategy, public interest law firm focused on changing the “systems” within which poor and low-income families live. Empire Justice protects and strengthens the legal rights of people in New York State who are poor, disabled or disenfranchised through: systems change advocacy, training and support to other advocates and organizations, and high quality direct civil legal representation. Empire Justice has offices in Albany, Rochester, Yonkers, White Plains and Central Islip on Long Island. For more information, please visit empirejustice.org.