ECRA Files Amicus Brief in Education Deprivation Case for Havasupai Tribe Children

Jul 2, 2021

Today the ECRA filed an Amicus Brief in the Stephen C. v. BIE case related to education deprivation experienced by children of the Havasupai Tribe.

ECRA Amicus Brief, click HERE

Key data on the Case, Court and Amicus Brief:


Stephen C., a minor, by Frank C., guardian ad litem, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants. v. Bureau of Indian Education, et al., Defendants-Appellees,


US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit

On Appeal From:

US District Court for the District of Arizona

Amicus Brief Filed On:


Amicus Brief in Support of Appellants Filed By:

Education Civil Rights Alliance (convened by the National Center for Youth Law), on behalf of 13 ECRA member and allied organizations:

National Center for Youth Law

Juvenile Law Center

National Disability Rights Network

Education Law Center

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Center for Law and Education

Education Law Center – PA

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Disability Law CO

National Center for Parent Leadership, Advocacy, and Community Empowerment

Pegasus Legal Services for Children

The Advocacy Institute

Lawyers for Good Government

Key points to know about the case:

  1. Havasupai Elementary School (HES) – run by BIE – is the only elementary school available to members of the Havasupai Tribe, at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
  2. The BIE failed to comply with several discrete requirements of the Indian Education Act and applicable regulations. The BIE admitted that failure. Very few Havasupai children at HES met the applicable educational standards.
  3. As a result of this failure to take the discrete actions required by law, BIE deprived children at HES of the education they needed to succeed in education beyond HES, in careers and in life.
  4. Several students who were or had been at HES and the Native American Disability Law Center are the named plaintiffs – they sued BIE (under the Administrative Procedure Act) for that agency failure to take those discrete actions required by law.
  5. Some claims – related to students with disabilities – were settled, but the district court judge mistakenly concluded that the court could not intervene to require the BIE to comply with specific requirements of the Indian Education Act, and that compensatory education is NOT an equitable remedy within the power of the court for the HES children, and the court threw out some of the plaintiffs from the case as a result.
  6. Plaintiffs have filed in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, to reverse the district court errors, and to compel the BIE to meets its discrete obligations under the Indian Education Act and to get the compensatory education that the HES children need and should be awarded by the court, even if they’ve since left HES.

Key points to know about the ECRA/NCYL Amicus Brief:

As experts in education law and education equity, the Education Civil Rights Alliance members and allies (led by the National Center for Youth Law, which convenes ECRA) are providing essential information to the court about the following:

  1. Compensatory education is a key remedy within the equitable power of the courts, having been awarded repeatedly by courts – without any prior specific statutory mention of “compensatory education” – as an appropriate equitable remedy for a variety of education deprivations prohibited by law – including:
    1. education deprivations for children who experienced unlawful racial segregation in schools (see Brown v. Board of Ed and related cases); and
    2. education deprivations for children with disabilities.
  2. Compensatory education is therefore a key remedy in this case for BIE’s admitted failures to take the discrete actions required under the Indian Education Act and its regulations.
  3. The district court thus erred:
    1. in finding compensatory education was not available for students without disabilities, and
    2. in dismissing several plaintiffs,

and must be reversed.