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Legal Victory For Philadelphia Parents Of Students With Autism

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- It was a legal victory this week for parents of children with autism in Philadelphia schools.

A federal judge has given a preliminary okay to a settlement that ensures that autistic children won't be shuffled from school to school without parents being given advance notice.

Not every Philadelphia school has autistic services in all grades, so children with autism were transferred to new schools, often at the last minute, says Sonja Kerr, the director of disability rights for the Public Interest Law Center.

"The school district was simply giving very, very late notice, sometimes the first day of school or even later.'Oh, Child "A," you're going to go to this school versus that school.' And that just doesn't work for kids with autism."

Under the settlement, the district must list on its web site schools with autism services; it must notify parents in January of a possible transfer; and the district has to finalize any transfer by June first.

The settlement affects 3,000 to 4,000 students with autism in the Philadelphia School District.

A "fairness hearing" on the settlement is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on June 3 in Courtroom 6A at the federal courthouse at 601 Market Street.

Parents who are interested can call the Public Interest Law Center at 215-627-7100 x258, or email


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