The DLC has been attempting to access Davis County’s “Jail Standards” since 2017. To recap, the DLC learned that Davis County Jail, as well as several other Utah jails, used a set of privately written Jail Standards to guide jail operations (including medical and mental illness care). In late 2017 the DLC requested these standards under GRAMA, along with audits performed according to the standards. Davis County refused to provide the standards, citing copyright and confidentiality restrictions. The DLC secured excellent pro bono counsel (David Reymann with Parr Brown Gee & Loveless) and began the appeal process. Davis County continued to deny access to the documents it uses to provide mental health care, and the case ultimately wound its way to Second DIstrict Utah State Court. On January 6 and 7, 2021, the court conducted a bench trial covering all but one witness in the case. On March 2t, 2021, the Judge Connors determined that the fair use doctrine applied to the Jail Standards and permitted the DLC and ACLU to access the records. This ruling was a huge win for the DLC’s Abuse and Neglect team as well as all Utahns concerned with transparency.
Turner v. Alpine Sch. Dist., Utah State Board of Education, et al.
On November 7, 2019 the Disability Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of a blind student with Autism was brutally assaulted by a school bus driver, in multiple incidents, over the course of several days. The student endured blows to the head, slaps to the face and hands, painful twisting of her arms and fingers, and perhaps more disturbingly, verbal taunts from the bus driver as he carried out the abuse. Multiple District Aides witnessed these violent incidents of child abuse and failed to intervene in any way. And though required under Utah law and District policy, none of these Aides reported what they saw to District administrators, law enforcement or the child’s parents. And despite clear requirements that all school staff who interact with children with disabilities undergo appropriate training pursuant to USBE guidance and District policy, no such training was provided to the bus driver who beat a blind, non-verbal child, or to the Aides who watched it happen without raising an objection. Further, the suit alleges that USBE consistently fails to provide adequate oversight and enforcement of Utah school districts’ compliance with federal law, and has through inaction, contributed to an atmosphere where such abuses are not only possible, but likely to occur. The lawsuit alleges that the actions and failures to act by the named defendants violated the child’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehab Act), and the fundamental rights guaranteed by the 4th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
On November 7, 2019 the Disability Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of a child with disabilities who was subjected to unlawful and shock ‘behavior interventions.’ These included: being punitively deprived of food and water; being strapped to a “Rifton Chair” for hours at a time; and on other occasions, by having his hands bound behind his back with twine. These abuses were perpetrated by a Special Education teacher and other District staff with purported expertise in the provision of highly specialized educational services and supports tailored to the unique needs of students with disabilities. The complaint identifies District-wide failures to adequately train staff who serve students with disabilities, and state-wide systemic failures by USBE to fulfill its most basic oversight, monitoring and enforcement functions. The lawsuit alleges that the conduct of the individual defendants, in concert with the systemic failures of the District and USBE, resulted in the shocking civil rights abuses endured by the vulnerable child plaintiff. The plaintiff in Keller is seeking a range of injunctive, declaratory, and monetary relief for violations of the ADA, Rehab Act, and rights secured by the 4th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.