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Press Release

U.S. Attorney's Office Reaches Agreement with Detroit Public Schools to Ensure Effective Communication for Parents Who Are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Michigan

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Michigan has reached an agreement with the Detroit Public School District under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), requiring the district to provide sign language interpreters and other aids and services to parents and guardians who are deaf or hard of hearing, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

The settlement resolves a complaint that the school district failed to provide a sign language interpreter to the deaf parent of a student enrolled in the district’s family- centered Early Childhood Intervention program. The complainant alleged that the district denied her effective communication by refusing to provide her with a sign language interpreter at the program’s home and center-based teaching sessions so that she could actively participate in the education of her child.

The ADA requires that public entities, such as public schools, provide effective communication to all individuals with disabilities who seek to participate in or benefit from a school district’s services, programs or activities—not just students. This can include parent participation in parent-teacher conferences, student registration, meetings, ceremonies, open houses, and field trips.

Under the settlement, the Detroit Public School District agreed to modify its policies and train its staff to ensure that parents and guardians who are deaf are able to effectively communicate with school personnel, provide appropriate auxiliary aids and services at no cost, and designate an ADA coordinator for the district. The district also agreed to pay compensatory damages to the complainant.

“All parents want to make sure that their children are getting the best education possible, and parents with disabilities are no different,” McQuade said. “Effective communication between parents and schools is critical to a student’s success, and the law provides parents with disabilities the opportunity to fully participate in their children’s education at our public schools.” McQuade said. “We hope that this case will improve awareness of the responsibility all school districts have to effectively communicate with parents with disabilities.”

Those interested in finding out more about this settlement or the obligations of public entities under the ADA may call the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Rights Hotline at 313-226-9151, or send an email to

Information is also available at the Justice Department’s toll-free ADA information line at 800-514-0301 or 800-514-0383 (TDD), or at

Updated February 4, 2016