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Law School Case Brief

Mills v. Bd. of Educ. - 348 F. Supp. 866 (D.D.C. 1972)


Chapter XIII of the District of Columbia Board of Education R. 1.1 states that all children of the ages hereinafter prescribed who are bona fide residents of the District of Columbia are entitled to admission and free tuition in the Public Schools of the District of Columbia, subject to the rules, regulations, and orders of the Board of Education and the applicable statutes.


Plaintiffs were seven “exceptional” children (i.e., mentally retarded, emotionally disturbed, physically handicapped, hyperactive and other children with behavioral problems) who were poor and without financial means to obtain private instruction. Prior to the beginning of the 1971-72 school year, minor plaintiffs, through their representatives, sought to obtain publicly supported education. Several plaintiffs were assured by the school authorities that they would be placed in programs of publicly supported education and certain others would be recommended for special tuition grants at private schools. However, none of the plaintiff children were placed for the 1971 Fall term, and they continued to be entirely excluded from all publicly supported education. After trying unsuccessfully to obtain relief from the Board of Education, plaintiffs filed the present action, seeking a declaration of rights and enjoining the school board from excluding them from public schools and/or denying them publicly supported education. Plaintiffs further prayed that the school board be compelled to provide them with immediate and adequate education and educational facilities in the public schools or alternative placement at public expense. The plaintiffs filed a motion for summary judgment that the school board opposed.


Did the school board have the duty to provide the exceptional children with publicly supported education, thereby warranting the grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiffs?




The court granted summary judgment in favor of the children. The court held that the school board admitted that it was under an affirmative duty to provide the children and their class with publicly supported education suited to each child’s needs, including special education and tuition grants, and also, a constitutionally adequate prior hearing and periodic review. The court held that the school board’s actions, i.e., failure of the school district to provide publicly supported education and training to the children and other "exceptional" children, and the excluding, suspending, expelling, reassigning and transferring of "exceptional" children from regular public school classes, were violative of the Due Process Clause.

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