'Warehoused:' Deaf student wins $1 million settlement from Grandview schools

 From Yakima Herald: Jose Garcia, senior at Grandview High School, puts in his hearing aid before the start of his tutoring session at the Yakima Central Library in Yakima, Wash. Friday, May 22, 2015. (MASON TRINCA/Yakima Herald-Republic)

From Yakima Herald: Jose Garcia, senior at Grandview High School, puts in his hearing aid before the start of his tutoring session at the Yakima Central Library in Yakima, Wash. Friday, May 22, 2015. (MASON TRINCA/Yakima Herald-Republic)

Yakima Herald

July 7, 2015
By Phil Ferolito
Twitter @philipferolito
pferolito@yakimaherald.com

The Grandview School District has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit filed on behalf of a deaf student for $1 million, attorneys for the student announced Tuesday.

Jose Garcia was basically “warehoused” in special education classes even though he was hearing impaired, not developmentally delayed, Seattle attorney Karen Koehler said in a news release about the settlement, which she called a record in an educational deprivation case.

“What happened to Jose Garcia was hideous,” Koehler said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “We’re supposed to take our children (to schools) and trust them with the privilege of educating our youth, and they just absolutely failed.”

The school district, which fought the case in both state and federal court, denied it deprived Garcia of an education.

“I feel like we did a good job for the plaintiff,” Superintendent Kevin Chase also said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “I think our educators worked really hard for him.”

The case began in 2010, when Garcia’s mother learned that her son wouldn’t graduate with his class. She filed a complaint with the state Office of Superintendent of Pubic Instruction, and the case went before an administrative law judge. Ruling in favor of Garcia, Judge Matthew Wacker of Seattle ordered the district to provide him with six years of private education after finding that the district had given Garcia work below his grade level, rather than adequately addressing his hearing problem.