Alabama’s education, human resources departments hit with multiple federal lawsuits

Two of Alabama's top education officials are facing lawsuits over alleged discrimination of children with disabilities.
Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 8:37 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Two of Alabama’s top education officials are facing multiple lawsuits over alleged systemic discrimination of children with disabilities.

Nancy Buckner, who serves as commissioner of the Alabama Department of Human Resources, and Eric Mackey, the State Superintendent of the Alabama Department of Education, will need to answer to allegations of denying those children educational opportunities.

Six federal lawsuits were filed on behalf of foster children who live and go to school in Alabama’s residential treatment facilities.

“Sometimes they resided in multiple of these facilities because they don’t have a family. The DOJ found that the vast majority of children in these facilities could be placed in a regular public school.” said Tommy James, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the case.

“These facilities and this segregation have deprived these children of the opportunity to partake in general education settings and have denied them access to education of equal or equivalent quality as their non-disabled peers,” the lawsuits read.

“Don’t have gyms, don’t have any athletic opportunities, don’t have science labs. It’s all either doing worksheets on the same grade level, or online classes. Teachers aren’t even certified in most of these places,” said James.

James says Buckner and Mackey continue to allow the violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Oftentimes that disability is trauma,” James added.

DHR says they couldn’t comment on pending litigation.

“We still have not officially been served with the lawsuit; therefore we haven’t had the opportunity to properly review the alleged complaint,” the Alabama State Department of Education said Thursday.

James said he plans to file a dozen more lawsuits to try and hold the state accountable.

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