Civil rights lawyers have expanded the scope of their class action lawsuit against the Fairfax County School Board and the Virginia Department of Education after more families came forward alleging the state had denied students their federally-mandated special education services.

Law firms Susman Godfrey and Merritt Law, along with the Civil Rights Clinic of Georgetown Law School, filed the amended complaint on January 20, 2023. The broadened lawsuit builds the original class action filed in Sept. 2022, which claimed that the Fairfax County School Board and the state’s department of education violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by denying students and families a fair and unbiased process when raising concerns about specialized education plans.

The new complaint alleges that the state’s department of education “was not only aware of school districts denying disabled students their guaranteed federal rights under the IDEA, but was actively complicit in ensuring students did not receive services,” according to a press release on Monday. In addition to families’ and officials’ testimony, the updated complaint is also based on additional information revealed through public records requests, according to Bill Merrill, a lawyer with Susman Godfrey.

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