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Civil Rights Groups Sue Sacramento District For 'Flagrant Discrimination' Against Students With Disabilities

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento City Unified School District faces allegations of "flagrant discrimination" against students with disabilities.

Several nonprofit groups have filed a lawsuit, claiming black students with disabilities bear the brunt of this discrimination.

An attorney who filed this lawsuit said this is a problem Sacramento City Unified District schools have been ignoring for a while. The attorney said when the district was confronted about it two years ago they promised to change, but that change never came.

The lawsuit claims district programs segregate, even deny students with disabilities a meaningful opportunity to go to class with their peers who are not disabled.

"They're being put into separate classrooms or being pushed into separate schools altogether," said Mona Tawatao, legal director for the Equal Justice Society.

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The lawsuit claims "students languish in a hostile, stigmatizing and demoralizing school environment."

Tawatao said students with disabilities are being bullied and called names and racial slurs.

"It's been so destructive to some students that they've felt like they've wanted to harm themselves as a result of the bullying," she said.

Tawatao said excessive punishment is also a big problem.

She said according to a 2017 report by the Council of Great City Schools, Sacramento Schools was disciplining students with disabilities twice as much as their peers without disabilities.

"There's every indication that that problem has gotten a lot worse students with students with disabilities being disciplined at 10 times the rate as other students with disabilities," she said.

A spokesperson for the district said he cannot comment on pending litigation but says the district does not tolerate any form of discrimination.

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Parents who have kids at Sac City schools said if these allegations are true, the district must do more to protect students with disabilities.

"They would just always feel like they're second class, that they don't belong with the majority," said parent Joset Walker.

Another parent felt it was important to educate students with disabilities in the same classroom as students without disabilities.

"I think it's just on the teacher to have more patience. If you have a special needs kid, I think its all about patience," said David Tribletd-Jackson.

When it comes to solutions, civil rights groups think the district needs to provide more training for teachers on how to be inclusive and how to handle a situation where a student with disabilities is being bullied.

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