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Lawsuit against Lakeland fails

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Gazette Staff
April 18, 2008
— A lawsuit seeking to stop the opening of the new Lakeland School likely won’t be taken to the U.S. Supreme Court.

So says Jeffrey Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin, after the disabled persons advocacy group this week lost in the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago.


A federal judge’s decision last year to dismiss the lawsuit still stands after the appellate court found that Disability Rights Wisconsin had not proved it would be injured by the building of a new school.


Construction of the new Lakeland School, a county-run school for children with disabilities, has proceeded despite the lawsuit. It is being built east of Elkhorn on the south side of County NN across from the new Lakeland Health Care Center and is scheduled to open in the fall.


Spitzer-Resnick said Disability Rights Wisconsin could file a new lawsuit seeking to prevent more children from being placed in the new school.


Disability Rights Wisconsin in July 2006 filed suit in federal court against Walworth County, saying a new school would promote further segregation of students.


Spitzer-Resnick said then that Disability Rights Wisconsin suffers injury because it has to expend resources representing parents who don’t want their children placed in Lakeland School. The group will have to represent more parents because school districts might be more likely to place children in the new school, he said.


Federal Judge Rudolph T. Randa determined in March 2007 that no child is injured because no student is ever forced to go to Lakeland School.


The lawsuit was troubled from the beginning because Disability Rights Wisconsin failed to enlist a single student or parent plaintiff.


“(The group) couldn’t find anybody to come forward and say, ‘Sue on behalf of us,’” Ronald Stadler, the attorney representing the county in the case, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “They couldn’t find anybody who says, ‘We don’t want to be here.’”



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