The Minneapolis school district was ordered to provide compensatory education to a special needs student after district educators suspended the students 12 times in one school year, according to court documents.
The 15-year-old student, identified as Eric in court documents filed Wednesday, is a black student that was labeled as having an emotional or behavioral disorder (also known as EBD).
In 9th grade, Eric was placed into the district's Harrison Education Center, which according to his attorneys is a locked and segregated education program for student with EBD.
The suspensions took place between September 2013 and February 2014, sometimes days apart.
On Sept. 24, Eric was suspended for just over a day for "disruptive behavior/insubordination." Two days later he was suspended again for "disruptive behavior/ threatened life of staff." The reasons for his other suspensions included
His mother, Erica, filed a complaint in May with the Minnesota Department of Education protesting the suspensions and requesting a change in the education the district was offering Eric.
An administrative law judge agreed, saying the district caused Eric a loss of educational benefit.
"The School District unilaterally changed Student's placement through a pattern of suspensions and exclusions that totaled more than ten school days in one school year," said Administrative Law Judge Steve Mihalchick.
According to his attorneys, Eric's suspensions violated his rights as a disabled student under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
A lawsuit in federal court filed by Erica's attorney seeks to make the district pay for over $50,000 in legal fees.
In August, the Star Tribune reported that suspensions jumped dramatically for Minneapolis public schoolchildren in kindergarten to fourth grade last year, even as school officials faced mounting criticism over inconsistency in doling out punishment.
The Minneapolis School District is facing intense scrutiny from the federal government over its suspension practices, particularly for sending minority children home at dramatically higher rates than white children.
Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson then announced she was banning suspension the district's prekindergarten, kindergarten and first-grade students.