Stephen C. v. Bureau of Indian Education

Holding the BIE Accountable to Provide Equal Educational Opportunity to Native American Children

The Havasupai Tribe, a federally recognized Native American tribe located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in Northern Arizona, has a school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) that is failing to meet the standards of a basic education. According to BIE data, children attending the BIE-operated Havasupai Elementary School struggle with reading and math, and at times have received no instruction in basic subjects such as science, history, and social studies.  The school has rarely offered special education services and has exacerbated students’ behavioral health challenges.

In January of 2017, Public Counsel, The Native American Disability Law Center, Stanford Youth and Education Law Project, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, and Sacks Tierney P.A. filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Bureau of Indian Education on behalf of Havasupai students and organizational plaintiff Native American Disability Law Center for failing to provide educational opportunities. The lawsuit seeks compensatory education and injunctive relief, including the provision of a general-education curricula taught by fully certified teachers with access to appropriate instructional materials; special education and related services taught by appropriately trained teachers; as well as necessary wellness and mental health resources for Havasupai students.


U.S. District Court for the State of Arizona