United States vs. Nobel Learning Communities, Inc.
On Friday, the United States Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement in a pending lawsuit based on the Americans with Disabilities Act against Nobel Learning Communities, Inc., a private for-profit organization that runs a group of preschools, elementary schools, and secondary schools around the country (although not in NY). The allegations were basically that this organization excluded children with disabilities from their learning programs. Private schools are not immune from the responsibility of providing equal access to education free of discrimination and the settlement reached here is an aknowledgment of that obligation. As a result, Nobel Learning Communities has agreed to pay $215,000 to the affected children (which really doesn't seem like a whole lot of money); implement a formal policy to conduct its programs in a non-discriminatory way; establish a means of considering parents' requests for reasonable modifcations to the program to address a child's disabilities; as well as other tasks of spreading awareness and monitoring compliance. These provisions are somewhat airy but it's a step in the right direction and the DOJ will keep a close eye on the situation, as the company is required to track and report its progress over the next couple of years.