A former Carson High School student with cerebral palsy is suing the Los Angeles Unified School District for allegedly denying him accessible transportation for field trips, road baseball games and the Grad Night trip to Disneyland, according to court papers obtained today.
Edward “Eddie” Martinez, who uses a wheelchair, contends that school staffers segregated him in the school library for two weeks while students in his math class met without him in an upstairs classroom, according to the lawsuit. Martinez wants unspecified monetary damages, calling his high school experience “horrific.”
A call to an LAUSD attorney for comment was not immediately returned. As a matter of policy, the district officials do not comment on pending litigation.
The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles federal court last week, makes claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act — both laws meant to protect the civil rights of people with disabilities.
It is the second disability-related lawsuit Martinez has filed against the LAUSD, according to court papers.
In 2012, the first lawsuit was settled, with the district agreeing to better train its staffers and to get vehicles designed for people with disabilities. Despite the settlement, Martinez, who has since graduated, alleges he continued to suffer the indignity of being left behind for school activities.
“I got through high school and earned my diploma just like all other Carson graduates,” said 18-year-old Martinez, who has cerebral palsy and spastic dysplasia, and plans to attend community college this fall.
“But the others weren’t repeatedly left behind for field trips, baseball games, and the final insult — the Grad Night trip to Disneyland,” he stated. “Actually, I didn’t get left behind for Disneyland. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I had them lift me out of my wheelchair and carry me on and off the bus, like a little child. It was humiliating, but I was so sick of being left behind, all I wanted was to be with my friends.”
Martinez alleges that throughout his high school experience, he was literally left at the curb by his teachers and classmates, as they pulled away in an inaccessible bus for various field trips dating back to January 2010.
Despite being the Carson High baseball team manager and scorekeeper, he could not attend league road games on his teammates’ bus.
“It was infuriating, for both Eddie and me,” his father, Oscar Martinez, said. “We asked the school staff repeatedly, 'Will there be a bus for Eddie?’ and so many times, it never happened. It was heartbreaking.”