DOJ settles with preschool program

This is a graphic depicting the outline of California with their state flag inside it which includes a bear and the words "California Republic".

The Justice Department reached a settlement May 17 with a California-based preschool program that had a policy excluding children with autism and other disabilities.

In June 2008, Beginning Montessori Academy, located in Baldwin Park, California, notified the family of a boy with autism that he would not be allowed to return to the preschool the following school year. The notification also stated that the Montessori Academy would no longer accept “any child with autism or any specialized condition or need,” according to the settlement.

Because the Montessori Academy is a 100-percent state funded private preschool program, the school is categorized as a public accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and is therefore not allowed to discriminate on the basis of disability.

As part of the settlement, the school must change its policies and procedures to accept children with disabilities. It must also pay $5,000 to the child’s family.

“All children deserve access to educational services, and making sure that schools are fully accessible to children with disabilities is a necessary part of integrating individuals with disabilities into all aspects of American life,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in a news release.