A team of legal advocates – including Youth and Education Law Project (YELP), Emily Curran-Huberty (SLS 2012), private law firms and national pro bono and disability rights organizations – reached a landmark settlement between families of the Havasupai tribe and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) in the matter of Stephen C. v. Bureau of Indian Education, 3:17-cv-08004 (D. Arizona). On October 2, 2020 Arizona District Court Judge Steven Logan approved a historic settlement in a civil rights lawsuit brought by students attending Havasupai Elementary School addressing the wholesale denial of educational opportunities for Native American students with disabilities. The settlement is a crucial first step in ensuring that the federal BIE fulfills its obligation to ensure that students with disabilities at Havasupai Elementary School receive equal access to education. Plaintiffs are preparing to appeal other claims dismissed by Judge Logan to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Tara Ford, YELP’s clinical supervising attorney and one of the lead counsel for the Stephen C. plaintiffs, summed up the significance of this settlement:
The students in this case can look to this settlement and know that their parents fought for them to have the education they deserve with unwavering courage and foresight. In this settlement, the families ensured that the federal government’s belated policy to prohibit discrimination against students with disabilities at BIE operated schools will be permanent, required independent monitoring of the government’s actions to implement the policy at Havasupai Elementary School and made certain that any findings will be public. The families and the community remain committed and tireless in their efforts to improve the school for Havasupai children.