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Daycare chain settles discrimination suit after expelling 3-year-old girl over potty training

Bob Fernandez, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Business News

PHILADELPHIA -- Spring Education Inc., formerly Nobel Learning Communities Inc. in West Chester, says it will be more understanding with disabled children who have development delays with potty training.

The national for-profit daycare and school settled a lawsuit brought by the U.S. Justice Department after the Chesterbrook Academy in Moorestown kicked out a three-year-old girl with Down syndrome when she couldn't conform to corporate timeline on toilet training.

Craig Carpenito, the U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, announced the agreement on Wednesday.

Spring Education agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty to the government and $18,000 in damages to the girl's parents who were not identified. The company also agreed to adopt a policy consistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act to accommodate children with disabilities that could delay potty training.

The company operates seven facilities in New Jersey and about 150 in the United States. The government filed the suit in 2016.

"With this agreement, we ensure that children with disabilities attending (Spring Education) daycare facilities in New Jersey and across the United States receive the protection to which they are entitled under the law," Carpenito said in a statement.

Spring Education did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

 

The girl, born in July 2011, was enrolled in Chesterbook Academy at seven months old and provided diapering. In December 2014, Chesterbrook told the girl's parents she would be advanced to the "Intermediate" program. The girl's parents expressed concern that she might not move out of diapers because of Down syndrome. In March 2015, Chesterbrook informed the girl's parents it was expelling their daughter because she was not toilet trained.

In an earlier case, the Justice Department sued the company in 2009 over discriminating against children with disabilities. The government and the company settled the suit.

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