Federal Court Holds that DC Must Provide IDEA Services to DC Residents in Federal Prisons

“There is now no doubt that youth with disabilities do not lose their right to a free and appropriate public education upon entering federal prison,” said Jessie Weber.

On Friday, August 24, Judge Randolph D. Moss of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia held that the District of Columbia (DC) is required to provide services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) to eligible DC residents who are incarcerated in federal facilities. This ruling is a significant victory for federal prisoners with disabilities, marking the first time a federal court has held that DC or any state retains its IDEA obligations to its residents who are in federal custody.

Under the federal Revitalization Act, DC residents who are convicted of felonies under local law, including youth convicted as adults, serve their sentences in federal facilities. Plaintiff Stephon Brown, a lifelong DC resident, was arrested at age 18 and sentenced to federal custody. Although Mr. Brown has been eligible for special education services since grade school, the District refused to provide for such services during his incarceration. As a result, Mr. Brown was deprived of vital support for his education and lost two years in his effort to obtain his high school diploma.

Jessie WeberKobie Flowers, Abigail Graber, and Chelsea Crawford from Brown, Goldstein & Levy and Sarah Comeau of School Justice Project represent Mr. Brown in this case.

Download Judge’s Order