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Payan v. LACCD: Case does not go to Supreme Court

Both parties met in a mediated settlement earlier this week.

Legal teams for Payan v. LACCD met on Monday to negotiate agreement in a mediated discussion following a March 2 conference at which the district voted not to file a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

LA City College students Roy Payan and Portia Mason argued that the LACCD did not provide sufficient educational resources to students with disabilities in a timely manner. The disabled plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in 2017, which they won in 2019, forcing the LACCD to meet their accessibility requests. The LACCD appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, claiming that the plaintiffs could not use the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 to illustrate “disparate impact” — or unintentional discrimination.

“This removes the LACCD from being terrible hypocrites by educating these students but taking away their rights,” said Paul Grossman, executive counsel for the Association on Higher Education and Disability. “Now they’re going to educate these students and they’ll keep their rights.”

Earlier this month, the district unanimously voted not to petition the U.S. Supreme Court, while both sides have agreed to continue “good-faith communications.”

If both parties come to a settlement agreement, it will be presented at the Board’s Districtwide Budget Committee meeting on April 13. In settling, the District must remedy the plaintiffs’ claim of discrimination by providing inclusive educational resources.

In the event that Payan v. LACCD is not settled, the case will go to the Supreme Court. As previously stated by the Star, disability advocates fear this outcome because the district can stand on the argument of “disparate impact.”

“We remain firmly committed to reaching a settlement that will enable us to provide even more inclusive and responsive educational services for reasonable accommodations under the provisions of the ADA,” said district Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez in a news release.

— Cassandra Nava


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