SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA
COUNTY OF ALAMEDA
COURTNEY KIDD et. al., on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated,
CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION et. al,
Case No. 2002049636
NOTICE OF PROPOSED SETTLEMENT, PRELIMINARY COURT APPROVAL OF SETTLEMENT, AND HEARING DATE FOR FINAL COURT APPROVAL
TO: ALL PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS FROM THE CLASSES OF 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, AND 2011 WHO ARE OR WERE ELIGIBLE FOR AN INDIVIDUALIZED EDUCATION PROGRAM (“IEP”) AND/OR SECTION 504 EDUCATION PLAN (“504 PLAN”) AND THEIR PARENTS OR LEGAL GUARDIANS.
PLEASE READ THIS NOTICE CAREFULLY. IT MAY AFFECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS. Specifically, it may affect your ability to bring a lawsuit in the future regarding the adequacy of your public school education and the adequacy of options available to students who have not passed the California High School Exit Examination (“CAHSEE”).
IF YOU WISH TO COMMENT IN FAVOR OF THE SETTLEMENT, OBJECT TO THE SETTLEMENT, OR APPEAR AT THE MAY 30, 2008 COURT HEARING REGARDING FINAL APPROVAL OF THE SETTLEMENT, YOU MUST FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS IN THIS NOTICE.
Purpose of Notice
This notice sets for the basic terms of the proposed settlement reached in Kidd v. California Department of Education and advises class members of their procedural rights relating to the settlement. The certified class in this lawsuit is defined as follows:
All students eligible for an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (“IDEA”) or a Section 504 Education Plan (“504 Plan”) pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 who have taken or will be required to take the California High School Exit Exam.
Description of the Case
This class action lawsuit was brought in 2002 against the California Department of Education, the California State Board of Education, and Jack O’Connell, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in California. Plaintiffs allege that, for several reasons, the application of the CAHSEE graduation requirement to public high school students with disabilities constitutes a violation of California statutory and constitutional law. Defendants deny the allegations made by Plaintiffs. Detailed information regarding this case, including all court papers, may be found on the Court's Web site.
Terms of Settlement Agreement
After approximately seven years of litigation, the parties in the case reached a Settlement Agreement in March of 2008. On May 2, 2008, Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman granted preliminary approval of the Settlement Agreement and approved this Notice.
The parties’ Settlement Agreement provides for the following:
- Defendants will commission an independent study on the CAHSEE, and will request and affirmatively seek up to $500,000 to retain and compensate an external consultant for that purpose.
- The study will examine twelfth graders (and possibly others) who have taken the CAHSEE with modifications and accommodations specified in their respective IEP or 504 plans, but who have not passed the CAHSEE, and who have satisfied or will satisfy all other requirements for graduation from high school. The study will examine why such students have not passed the CAHSEE. Among other things, the study shall determine whether some group of students have learned the material being tested, but are unable to demonstrate their mastery of that knowledge through the CAHSEE, despite the students’ use of permissible modifications and/or accommodations.
- Based on the results of the study, the consultant will issue a report, setting forth the consultant’s determinations for addressing any issues identified in the study.
- If the study determines that some students have learned the CAHSEE material but are unable to demonstrate that knowledge through the CAHSEE despite the students’ use of permissible accommodations and/or modifications, the report shall set forth recommendations as to whether such students could demonstrate their knowledge of the CAHSEE standards through alternative means. If the final report makes such determinations, it shall also identify and set forth an analysis of such possible alternative means.
- The report will be disseminated to: the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the California Department of Education, the members of the California Board of Education, the Clerk of the Assembly, the Secretary of the Senate, Chairs of the Senate Education and Fiscal Committees, Chairs of the Assembly Education and Fiscal Committees, the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the California Department of Finance, and Plaintiffs’ counsel in the case.
- Within five months of the final report being delivered, Defendants will consider the report and make recommendations, if any, to the Legislature regarding the issues addressed in the report. Defendants may also independently implement policies responsive to the report that do not require legislation.
If the Settlement Agreement receives final approval from the Court and the Court enters final judgment, then the claims raised by Plaintiffs in this case will be deemed released by all members of the certified class in the Classes of 2001 through 2011 against any state entity.
Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
The Settlement Agreement provides that Plaintiffs and their attorneys may move the Court for reasonable attorneys fees and costs within 60 to 120 days after the Court grants final approval of the Settlement Agreement and enters final Judgment dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims.
Final Approval Hearing and Comment/Objection Procedure
The hearing for final approval of the settlement has been scheduled for May 30, 2008, at 2:00 p.m., in front of Alameda Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman, Department 20, 1221 Oak Street, 4th Floor, Oakland, California, 94612. It is not necessary for class members to appear at the hearing. Only class members who file a Notice of Intent to Appear, as described below, will be allowed to appear and offer oral comments about the settlement at this hearing, subject to the Court’s discretion. Class members may enter an appearance through counsel. The hearing may be postponed without further notice to the class. DO NOT TELEPHONE THE COURT.
Class members who wish to comment or object to the parties’ Settlement Agreement may do so only by (1) filing a written comment or objection on or before May 23, 2008; or (2) filing a Notice of Intent to Appear at the final approval hearing on or before May 23, 2008. A parent or legal guardian may file these documents on behalf of any class member who is under 18 years of age. Comments, objections, and/or Notice(s) of Intent to Appear must clearly identify the case name and case number (Kidd v. California Department of Education, Case No. 2002049636), and must state the class member’s full name and address; where the class member attends (or attended) public high school and the date(s) of the class member’s attendance; whether the class member has received a high school diploma; the relationship of the person filing the objection, comment or Notice of Intent to Appear to the class member (e.g., parent, legal guardian, or counsel); and each specific reason in support of the comment or objection and any legal support for each comment or objection. Comments, objections, and/or Notice(s) of Intent to Appear must be submitted by mailing them to BOTH of the following addresses:
Clerk of the Court
Superior Court of California, County of Alameda
Rene C. Davidson Alameda County Courthouse
1225 Fallon Street
Oakland, CA 94612
Disability Rights Advocates
2001 Center Street, 3rd Floor
Berkeley, CA 94704
To be considered and valid, the above recipients must receive any comments, objections, and/or Notice(s) of Intent to Appear by no later than May 23, 2008.
A class member who fails to file and serve an objection in the manner described above and by the specific deadline will be deemed to have waived any objections and will be foreclosed from making any objection (whether by appeal or otherwise) to the settlement. A class member who fails to file a Notice of Intent to Appear in the manner described above and by the specific deadline will be deemed to have waived any right to appear to comment or object at the hearing.
Getting More Information
The above is a summary of the basic terms of the Settlement Agreement. For the precise terms and conditions of the Settlement, you are referred to the detailed Settlement Agreement, which will be on file with the Clerk of the Court. The pleadings and other records in this litigation, including the Settlement Agreement, may be examined: (a) online on the Alameda County Superior Court's Web site; (b) in person at Room 109 at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street, Oakland, California, 94612, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, excluding Court holidays; or (c) you may contact Julia Pinover, Disability Rights Advocates, 2001 Center Street, Third Floor, Berkeley, California 94704.