School for Disabled Challenged in Lawsuit
A statewide group is suing the Walworth County Board to halt construction of a new school for students with disabilities, contending it violates federal law requiring students be taught in the most integrated setting possible.
At issue is an April vote by the Walworth County Board of Supervisors to spend $22 million to build a larger home for Lakeland School, a facility that educates about 260 students ages 3 to 21 from throughout the county.
"If they were building a smaller school, we wouldn't be suing them," said Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney with Disabilities Rights Wisconsin. "Walworth County's decision was to not only build a new school, but to build a bigger school, to put it on the county grounds where the nursing home and jail is, to build a seven-foot fence around it" and further segregate the students.
Disabilities Rights Wisconsin mailed its lawsuit to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on Friday, Spitzer-Resnick said.
In the lawsuit, a copy of which was provided to the Journal Sentinel, Disability Rights Wisconsin contends the school violates the Americans with Disabilities Act by not giving its students enough opportunity to interact with non-disabled pupils. It notes that more than 11% of children with disabilities in Walworth County are educated at a public school separate from their non-disabled peers, compared with less than 1% of disabled students statewide in the 2004-'05 school year.