Ruffing Montessori School to change policies for students with disabilities under settlement with Justice Department
The Department of Justice announced today that Ruffing Montessori School, in Rocky River, has entered into an agreement to make significant changes in its policies for students with disabilities, U.S Attorney Carole Rendon said.
The school has also agreed to pay $45,000 in compensation to three families whose children were disenrolled from Ruffing, and a civil penalty of $3,000.
The agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, resolves allegations by the United States that Ruffing failed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act when it disenrolled a child with autism, and two other students. The United States alleged that Ruffing did not attempt to make reasonable modifications to its program for these children before deciding that they could not continue as students at the school.
Under the agreement, Ruffing’s staff will be trained on how to educate children with disabilities within the Montessori philosophy. The school will also revise its non-discrimination policies to cover children with disabilities, and for a three-year period will report to the Department of Justice on how it handles applications from students with disabilities. The school will also report on how it responds to requests for modifications from children with disabilities, and on any students with disabilities who leave the school.
“This settlement protects the rights of students with disabilities to access the educational opportunities offered by private schools, including Montessori schools,” Rendon said. “This settlement is an important reminder that the ADA’s obligations extend to private schools and their treatment of students with disabilities. Under the ADA, private schools must ensure that they are not screening out students on the basis of disability or making decisions based on stereotypes about students with disabilities.”