The Larry P. v. Riles (Larry P.) case was filed in 1971 when five African-American children who had been placed in special education classes for the “educable mentally retarded” (EMR) in the San Francisco Unified School District filed suit in the Federal District Court of Northern California claiming that they had been wrongly placed in the EMR classes based on their performance on intelligence tests that were racially biased and discriminatory. [Larry P. v. Riles, 495 F. Supp. 926 (N.D. Cal. 1979).] The suit also claimed that a disproportionate total number of African-American students were placed in EMR classes compared to the number of African-American students in the school system.
The Court decided in favor of the students, and the District was prohibited from using IQ tests to identify or place African-American students in EMR-type classes. The Decision was upheld on appeal in 1984. [Larry P. v. Riles, 793 F.2d 969 (9th Cir. 1984).] The Court expanded its ruling in the case by banning the use of IQ testing for all African-American students who have been referred for special education services.
The federal district court case of Crawford v. Honig prompted a reexamination of the rights of multicultural children in special education. This case has challenged the Larry P. ruling banning the use of IQ tests for African-American children and has, preliminarily, resulted in three African-American children being allowed to take IQ tests because their parents wish to have them do so. After the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Crawford, CDE issued a Legal Advisory in October 1994, continuing the directive which banned IQ testing. [See Crawford v. Honig, 37 F.3d 485 (9th Cir. 1994).]