Special Ed: Calif. Parents' Lawsuit Could Force Expansion of Programs

Lauren Williams's picture
Monday, May 6, 2013

Initiated by dissatisfied Morgan Hill parents, a lawsuit that could vastly expand services for disabled students in California, and greatly increase the costs of educating them, is inching toward trial.

The suit, joined by parents throughout the state, asserts that California is shirking its responsibility to ensure disabled students receive what's federally guaranteed -- a free and appropriate education. A federal district judge in Sacramento five weeks ago cleared the way for the suit to proceed.

The suit claims the state's special education system is in "free-fall" and that schools fail to identify and educate students with disabilities in the "least restrictive environment," to map out, implement and stick to individual plans for them, and to include parents in planning.

The suit cites instances in Morgan Hill that it claims result from the state's failure, including a 6-year-old autistic child strapped to her chair, student services eliminated and false reports of truancy that resulted in a student being denied access to a school.

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