A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the District has failed to provide special education services to hundreds of eligible preschool-age children and ordered that the city redouble its efforts to find, assess and treat those with special needs.

U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth issued a sweeping series of orders in a 2005 class-action suit (D.L. v. District of Columbia) brought by seven children and their parents, who encountered barriers and delays in securing special education services for which they were eligible under federal law. Lamberth set a series of performance benchmarks for D.C. special education officials and said if they were not met, more stringent intervention would follow, possibly in the form of a court-appointed special master.

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