A suit filed last month by students, parents and teachers of Compton Unified School District (CUSD) charges the school district for abrogating their responsibility to provide equal access to education for students who have experienced complex trauma. The class-action suit contends that the district violates the federal Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


The suit cites research that shows how cumulative exposure to trauma can impair children’s ability to learn. The suit argues:

“There are devastating consequences to educational opportunity and academic success that flow from a failure to make reasonable accommodations to the needs arising in schools attended by high concentrations of trauma-impacted students.”

An attorney who helped file the suit argued that the disadvantages caused by unaddressed trauma are “the type of roadblock to learning that our federal anti-discrimination laws were created to address”.

The suit cites a litany of unmet needs and policies by the CUSD that worsen, rather than alleviate these issues, none of which will be unfamiliar to those in the Chicago Public Schools: a failure to train teachers and staff to recognize the effects of trauma; failure to train staff in evidence-based trauma interventions; lack of comprehensive restorative justice practices; lack of mental health support; punitive discipline policies, etc.

To find out more about the suit, go to traumaandlearning.org.

The lack of adequate socio-emotional supports for students in CPS is an egregious violation of our students’ rights. CTU is fighting so that schools are equipped to help students deal with their traumas, to have enough counselors and social workers to fully engage with all students to meet their diverse and complex needs.