WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced a settlement agreement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) with a state-funded private preschool program, Beginning Montessori Academy, located in Baldwin Park, Calif. The Justice Department initiated its investigation of the Montessori Academy after a student’s parent filed a complaint alleging violations of Title III of the ADA. The parent filed the complaint after the school alerted her that the student was not accepted to the school for the following year, despite having been a student there for some time.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the Montessori Academy will ensure that it will not discriminate against any individual on the basis of disability, including autism. The Montessori Academy agrees to provide children with disabilities an equal opportunity to attend the Montessori Academy and to participate in all programs, services or activities. The school has also agreed to make reasonable modifications in policies, practices or procedures when such modifications are necessary to afford its child care services and facilities to children with disabilities, except when doing so would cause a fundamental alteration of its services or when the child’s participation in programs, services or activities causes a direct threat to others. The Montessori Academy will also pay $5,000 to the party affected by the school’s previous policies.
“All children deserve access to educational services, and making sure that schools are fully accessibile to children with disabilities is a necessary part of integrating individuals with disabilities into all aspects of American life,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The department is committed to vigorously enforcing Title III of the ADA.”
Title III of the ADA prohibits private entities that offer public accommodations, like the Montessori Academy, from excluding people with disabilities, including people with autism, from full and equal enjoyment of the services provided. Anyone interested in learning more about federal disability rights statutes can call the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301, 800-514-0383 (TTY), or visit the ADA website at www.ada.gov . For more information about the Civil Rights Division, visit its website at www.justice.gov/crt or follow @civilrights on Twitter.