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Compton Schools Fail To Help Traumatized Students, Lawsuit Says

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A class-action lawsuit alleges that the Compton Unified School District failed to help students who have suffered from violence and other trauma.

The landmark suit could determine whether "complex trauma" should be considered a disability under federal law, requiring school districts to provide special academic and mental health services to struggling students, the L.A. Times reports. If successful, the suit aims to develop training for staff to better recognize trauma, offer mental support for students and a shift from disciplinary practices for related behavior towards healing.

The lawsuit was filed yesterday by the public interest law firm, Public Counsel and Irell & Manella LLP, on behalf of five student plaintiffs and three teachers. Students named in the suit have undergone a variety of traumatic experiences, including physical and sexual abuse, bullying by teachers and students, and witnessing multiple shootings.

According to the suit, the policies and practices of Compton schools are failing to accommodate the effects of complex trauma, and in some cases, “perpetuate and sometimes create trauma on their own.”

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Compton Unified Supt. Darin Brawley told the L.A. Times that he has not yet seen the lawsuit, but the district plans to review it. Brawley says, "We take very seriously all allegations regarding the quality of education of our students. The district is committed to providing a quality education to all students and will continue to do so."

Below is a video from Public Counsel featuring interviews with some of the student plaintiffs.