City of Selma faces disc­rimination lawsuit

Couple says city thwarted their bid to bring in school for learning disabled kids


SELMA, Texas - A local couple who had hoped to open a school for kids with learning disabilities is suing the city of Selma, claiming the city derailed efforts to start the school.

In 2008, a school called the Exceptional Child's Learning and Resource Center operated in Live Oak and served kids with Attention Deficit Disorder, learning disabilities and autism, as well as those deemed gifted and talented.

The school got rave reviews from parents like Mary Jimm Martin.

"I wanted a place for my daughter to thrive and that's where it was," Martin said.

Dusti Kelly-Fleming and her husband, John, owned TECLARC, where Dusti was also the administrator.

"There was no more than eight students in a classroom and all of our teachers were certified," Kelly-Fleming said.

Kelly-Fleming said when the landlord in the strip center where the school was located raised the rent, the school could not afford to stay.

She said she located land in Selma on Utopia Road for a permanent home and said Selma officials cooperated initially.

Kelly-Fleming said that cooperation ended when the Selma officials found out the school was for special needs students.

"(They gave us) one obstacle after another, to the point where what should have taken six weeks, we were there for, like, six months," Kelly-Fleming said.

She said the school did not open for the fall semester of 2008 because of the delays caused by the city of Selma.

Kelly-Fleming and her husband, now Bexar County Court No. 1 Judge John Fleming, filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination under the Americans With Disabilities Act.

That lawsuit has gone on for five years and the Flemings say it has been an expensive battle.

"It takes a toll not just in that manner, but also emotionally and personally," said John Fleming.

Charles Frigerio is a San Antonio attorney who represents the city of Selma in this case. He said the city did not violate federal law.

"We didn't do anything wrong,” Frigerio said. “We didn't violate the Americans With Disabilities Act."

Frigerio said the Flemings did not understand the zoning process, did not have a site plan and that the city council granted them a temporary permit for their school.

"The issue really was, we wanted to help them, they just didn't follow the process," Frigerio said.

He said the reason the couple has pursued this case for so long is not for justice.

"Well, no, they want $350,000,” Frigerio said. “That's what they're looking for."

The initial conflict happened five years ago in 2008. The federal court received the case back in 2010.

And after many delays, it is finally slated to be heard next month.

For a list of recent stories Brian Mylar has done, click here.


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