We filed the lawsuit Gaskin v. Commonwealth on June 30, 1994, seeking to increase the number of children with disabilities educated with their non-disabled peers, and to make sure schools provided real supports to make sure inclusion would work as required by the IDEA. To reach those goals, the lawsuit sought to change Pennsylvania’s systems for training districts in inclusion and for monitoring and enforcing their compliance. The suit was filed on behalf of a class of 280,000 special education students, 12 named plaintiffs, and 11 disabilities advocacy organizations.
Gaskin v. Commonwealth
In the early 1990s, Pennsylvania had the second worst rate of inclusion of students with disabilities in regular education classrooms in the country – and when students were included, it was often without real support. Few regular education teachers had any training in teaching students with disabilities, and schools were often unwilling to provide needed resources. Although the law places responsibility for compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) on the state, Pennsylvania did little to make sure districts were actually complying with the law – and when it became clear they were failing, the state did little to fix the problem.