WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today reached a settlement agreement with Ridgewood Preparatory School (Ridgewood) to ensure that students with disabilities are not discriminated against in the full and equal enjoyment of Ridgewood’s services and facilities. Ridgewood is a private, nonsectarian school in Metairie, Louisiana that provides education to children in pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade.
The settlement agreement resolves allegations that Ridgewood violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by denying a child with spina bifida admission to its pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs on the basis of his disability, failing to reasonably modify its policies, practices, and procedures to enable the child to access the school’s programs, and failing to ensure that its buildings and facilities are accessible to people with disabilities. The department’s investigation found that the school, among other things, had inaccessible doors, walkways, and bathrooms.
Under the agreement, Ridgewood will offer the child two years of tuition-free enrollment and, upon enrollment, provide him with reasonable modifications. Ridgewood will also modify its facilities to make them accessible to individuals with disabilities, revise its policies to ensure compliance with the ADA, train relevant staff on the ADA, and pay a $1,000 civil penalty to the United States.
“No child with a disability should be unlawfully denied admission to a school because of a disability, and no parent of a child with a disability should have to worry that his or her child will be discriminated against in this way,” said Assistant Attorney General Eric S. Dreiband of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “As we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the ADA, the Civil Rights Division is committed to ensuring that no child with a disability is prevented from enrolling in the school of his or her choice because of discriminatory attitudes about children with disabilities and what they can achieve.”
“Thirty years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, cases like this demonstrate that there is still work to be done to ensure that children with disabilities do not face disability discrimination in education or otherwise,” said U.S. Attorney Peter G. Strasser for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “Through this agreement, Ridgewood is taking important steps to make sure that all children in its programs, including children with disabilities, will be given the opportunity to have a positive and successful educational experience free from barriers.”
2020 marks the 30th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Justice Department plays a central role in advancing the nation’s goal of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for people with disabilities. Please visit the department’s ADA Anniversary webpage to learn more about the ADA’s history and impact.
People interested in finding out more about the ADA or these settlement agreements can call the toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or access the ADA website at http://www.ada.gov.
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