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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 29, 2014

Justice Department Settles with Private Montessori School to Prevent Disability Discrimination

The Justice Department announced today that it has reached an agreement with Milwaukee Montessori School, a private day school serving over 400 children from 18 months old through eighth grade, to remedy alleged violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The agreement resolves allegations by the department that the school failed to accommodate and then impermissibly disenrolled a young child whose disability caused him to stumble and fall more frequently than his peers.  The agreement is being filed as a consent decree along with a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, and must be approved by the court.

Under the agreement, the school will adopt a disability nondiscrimination policy, including procedures for prompt handling of requests to reasonably modify school policies for children with disabilities.  The school will train teachers, administrators, and board members on ADA requirements and report to the department on its compliance with the agreement.  In addition, the school will pay $50,000 in compensatory damages to the child identified in the complaint and his parents, and will pay a civil penalty of $5,000 to the United States. 

“It is illegal under the ADA to discriminate against children with disabilities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.  “Just like public schools, private schools must make reasonable modifications of policies to permit children with disabilities to participate fully in their programs.  This agreement ensures that children will not be denied quality educational opportunities based on their disabilities.”

“This is a most important, meaningful, and effective action by the leadership of the Milwaukee Montessori School to ensure compliance with the ADA,” said James L. Santelle, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.  “The agreement that we are announcing today reflects the school’s commitment and that of the Justice Department to ensure the full accessibility and opportunity promises of the law in the private educational setting.”

Title III of the ADA requires public accommodations, including private schools such as Milwaukee Montessori School, to provide individuals with disabilities equal access to goods, services, privileges, accommodations, facilities, advantages and accommodations.  For more information about the ADA, call the Department’s toll-free ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (TDD 800-514-0383) or access the ADA website at www.ada.gov.

Updated August 28, 2015