Dechert, Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center Secure US$3 Million Settlement to Benefit Former Students in Glen Mills Schools Class Action Alleging Pervasive Abuse and Deprivation of Education
The settlement includes the establishment of a fund for former Glen Mills Schools students who may be eligible to receive cash payments and compensatory education services.
On January 18, the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU) approved a US$3 million settlement of education-related claims filed against it in Derrick, et al. v. The Glen Mills Schools, et al. CCIU is one of multiple defendants in this ongoing federal class action lawsuit that challenges pervasive abuse and deprivation of education at the now-shuttered Glen Mills Schools, which was formerly the oldest juvenile justice facility in the country.
Dechert, Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center filed the proposed class action lawsuit in April 2019 on behalf of former students and their parents. The complaint was filed in the wake of the closing of the facility by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services in response to findings of pervasive abuse and intimidation against students by Glen Mills Schools residential staff and leadership. While Glen Mills Schools was responsible for educating students, CCIU served as the local educational agency under a contract with Glen Mills approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. These obligations included ensuring that students with disabilities received a free, appropriate, public education.
The lawsuit alleged significant violations of the civil rights of former students, including that students were unsafe, subjected to extreme and sustained physical and emotional abuse, and deprived of any meaningful education. The abuse had a particularly dire impact on Black students, sent to Glen Mills in disproportionate numbers, as well as students with disabilities and special education needs, whose educational rights were ignored.
“This settlement is a significant step forward, and we are proud to partner with Education Law Center and Juvenile Law Center to help these former students,” said Clare Putnam Pozos, a partner at Dechert LLP who leads the firm’s pro bono litigation team with partner Michael McGinley and retired partner Fred Magaziner. “Our class action lawsuit will continue against the remaining defendants, including representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, and Glen Mills Schools, who bear significant responsibility for creating a culture of abuse and depriving children of an education.”
Along with the partners, Dechert’s litigation team consisted of counsel Christopher Burrichter; associates Drew Bencie, Jordan Carpenter, Samantha DeRuvo, Roger Dixon, Ashley Flynn, Anthony Jadick, Cassandra Love, Christopher Merken, Vishan Patel, Caroline Power and Rachel Rosenberg; senior staff attorneys Lorraine Consorte, Jaime Freedman, Francis Rizzo and Helen Santoro; and ediscovery counsel Matthew Tate.
A website, GlenMillsSettlement.org, will provide information and updates about the settlement funds and how to apply for relief.
Education Law Center-PA is a nonprofit, legal advocacy organization with offices in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, dedicated to ensuring that all children in Pennsylvania have access to a quality public education. Juvenile Law Center advocates for rights, dignity, equity and opportunity for youth in the foster care and justice systems.
Dechert has a longstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations who cannot otherwise afford legal counsel. This commitment exists in all of Dechert’s offices in the United States and internationally. Each year, the firm handles hundreds of pro bono matters, covering a broad range of issues, including civil rights, international human rights, child advocacy, veterans, prisoner civil rights, landlord tenant, access to public benefits, immigration, criminal law and the representation of nonprofits, small businesses and social enterprises. In 2022, Dechert was again ranked by The American Lawyer among the ten top firms for pro bono both in the United States and internationally.
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