Last week, in P.P. v. Compton Unified School District, a federal court in Southern California held that a case may move forward alleging that trauma impacts from poverty and racism qualify as a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The plaintiffs in the case are multiple youth, and their teachers, who work or attend public schools in Compton, California. Compton is one of the most socio-economically distressed areas in the country, and it experiences attendant high rates of violent crime and homelessness. The youth in the Compton school district experience horrifying trauma in their daily lives, such as being stabbed or witnessing friends and family shot or stabbed in front of them, sleeping on top of the school cafeteria roof for months due to homelessness, and being arrested at gunpoint by police while at school in a case of mistaken identity.
Last week, federal courts in Washington D.C. and Michigan issued orders affirming the civil liberties of deaf prisoners and suicidal individuals who call police for help during a mental health emergency. In Washington D.C., a federal court held that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires prisons to affirmatively provide appropriate communication services for deaf inmates. In Michigan, a federal court held that police officers ignored the protections of the 4th Amendment when they responded to a potentially suicidal individual by breaking windows and throwing tear gas canisters into his home, and ultimately shooting and killing him.