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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 04/ 5/2010

D.C. denied end to court supervision

By Washington Post editors

A federal judge Monday rejected the District’s effort to end nearly two decades of court supervision of the city’s child welfare agency.

The opinion, issued by U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, is a blow to the city’s top lawyer, Attorney General Peter Nickles, who had pushed hard to end the child welfare case and other long-running class action suits involving the mental health and developmental disabilities agencies and the special education system.

But in his 46-page opinion Hogan concluded that the recent Supreme Court decision cited again and again by the District in its effort to end the class action suits did not mandate an end to the consent decree that the District entered into.

While acknowledging considerable progress since the lawsuit LaShawn v. Fenty was filed in 1989, Hogan questioned the District’s decision to seek an end to the case barely a year after the four children of Banita Jacks were found dead in the family’s Southeast Washington home.

“By all accounts, CFSA largely fell to pieces in the aftermath of that discovery. . . ,” Hogan writes. “Undoubtedly, CFSA has taken measures to buttress reforms. But the defendants have not illustrated any, at least not in a manner that inspires enough confidence to support a conclusion that the agency’s progress is “durable and self-sustaining.”

-- Henri Cauvin

By Washington Post editors  | April 5, 2010; 12:20 PM ET
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