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Legacy of Mistreatment

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Special Education

African-American students across the country are much more likely than any other student group to be placed in special education. In this week’s episode, we present a documentary from San Francisco, where we hear about a landmark education case, and what is and isn’t working for black students with special needs today.

This story first aired on KALW-FM’s news magazine Crosscurrents as part of the series Learning While Black: The Fight for Equity in San Francisco Schools. It was reported with the support of the Fund for Journalism on Child Well-Being, a program of the University of Southern California Center for Health Journalism.

Image Caption/Credit: Darryl Lester, 60, and his wife at their Tacoma home. Darryl was lead plaintiff in a 1971 lawsuit that successfully challenged the use of culturally-biased IQ tests to improperly channel California black students into special ed. His pseudonym: Larry P. (LEE ROMNEY / KALW)

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  • Darryl Lester, plaintiff in landmark Larry P. v. Riles case
  • Mauricha Robinson, co-chair – African American advisory council
  • Harold Dent, a founder of the Assoc. of Black Psychologists
  • Jean Robertson, SFUSD chief of special ed services
  • Rochean Chatman, high school student
  • Todd Williams,  Asst. Principal at Downtown High School


Reporter: Lee Romney

Editor: Lisa Morehouse

Engineer: Tarek Fouda

Making Contact Staff:

  • Host: Monica Lopez
  • Producers: Anita Johnson, Salima Hamirani, Monica Lopez
  • Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
  • Audience Engagement Director/Web Editor: Sabine Blaizin  


  • “Temporal Slip”, Blue Dot Sessions
  • “Heading East (320 kbps)”
  • “Remembrance”, Yussef Kamaal
  • “Migration Thread of Clouds”, Blue Dot Sessions
  • “Ervira”, Blue Dot Sessions


Author: Radio Project

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