California’s protection & advocacy system
For legal assistance call 800-776-5746. For all other purposes call 916-504-5800 in Northern CA
or 213-213-8000 in Southern CA. TTY 800-719-5798.
Based on “Policy on Legislation Affecting California Special Education Pupils' Rights Under Federal and State Special Education Laws,” Adopted 11/20/1999, Amended 3/2/2013; “Policy on Legislation Affecting Pupils' Rights to Education in the Least Restrictive Environment,” Adopted 11/20/1999, Amended 9/20/2003; and “Policy on Legislation Affecting California Special Education Complaint, Monitoring, and Accountability Systems,” Adopted 11/20/1999, Amended 3/2/2013
Publication #1042 Adopted 12/5/2014
Disability Rights California (DRC) is committed to ensuring special education students receive an education designed to meet their unique needs. Special education rights afforded by federal law should be maintained and enhanced in California. Students with disabilities must be educated in the most integrated setting to the maximum extent appropriate with non-disabled peers. DRC supports state laws and policies that establish greater protections for students with disabilities than federal law. Any state laws or policies decreasing students’ rights will be opposed.
Although federal and state laws provide students and their family with comprehensive rights, the education they receive too often does not provide positive educational outcomes including the education they need to be employed or succeed in postsecondary education or training. Special education in many districts is a parallel and less effective system of education with less ambitious learning goals. As adults, students with disabilities are less likely to graduate from high school, less likely to demonstrate proficiency in reading and mathematics, less likely to go to college, more likely to be suspended or expelled, and less likely to be employed. The promise of a collaborative approach between parents and educators to address students’ unique needs is often unnecessarily adversarial.
At the federal and state level, new initiatives are being implemented to ensure education for all students is outcome-based. For example, the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) has designed a new accountability framework, called Results Driven Accountability that provides for a renewed focus on educational results and functional outcomes for students with disabilities. In June 2014, the OSEP sent a letter notifying California of its “needs intervention” status and indicating it will provide the state with differentiated monitoring and support to help guide improvement efforts.1
Federal and state special education laws and policies require and must be enforced to ensure students with disabilities:
Footnote 1: As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the United States Department of Education (ED), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) makes an annual determination of each state’s compliance with implementing the provisions of Part B of the IDEA. Every state receives one of the following compliance determinations from OSEP: “meets requirements,” “needs assistance,” “needs intervention,” or “needs substantial intervention.” For more information see: http://kblegal.us/change-in-federal-monitoring-of-states-special-education-programs/
Footnote 2: Transition services are services that help students move from school to adult life and reflect the student’s own goals.
California uses the more rigorous Common Core State Standards to guide classroom instruction in reading, writing, speaking, mathematics and other subjects. School districts across the state are training their general education teachers to use the new standards but often do not include special education teachers. General education students are required to participate in standardized testing that measures knowledge of the Common Core Standards. Most students with disabilities who historically participated in the statewide assessment system via the California Modified Assessment will now participate in the Common Core Standards assessments with appropriate supports and accommodations.
For some students with the most significant disabilities, the standard test may not be an appropriate assessment tool. However, the current alternative assessment, the California Alternate Performance Assessment, is not aligned with Common Core Standards.
To ensure that students with disabilities have equal educational opportunities, the state must:
California’s special education complaint and monitoring system needs improvement.4 It must make school systems more accountable for pupil outcomes and for school system failures to implement appropriate programs. The agencies responsible for monitoring compliance with state and federal special education laws must be more accountable. Agencies charged with monitoring local education agency (LEA) compliance should take a more proactive approach to their duties.
DRC will advocate for effective monitoring systems that:
Footnote 3: High stakes tests are tests that have important consequences for the test taker. For example, California students must pass the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) to graduate from high school.
Footnote 4: A complaint is a formal request to the California Department of Education to investigate allegations of noncompliance with federal or state special education laws.
Positive behavioral interventions should be used to address behavior that is dangerous to the student and others, including behavior that results in the use of restraint or seclusion, and should focus on the underlying cause or purpose of the dangerous behavior.5 Any behavioral intervention must be consistent with the student’s right to be treated with dignity and be free from abuse.
Behavioral restraint or seclusion are only used as safety measures of last resort when a student’s behavior poses an imminent risk of serious physical harm. Restraint or seclusion should never be used as a substitute for a behavioral intervention plan or for punishment, discipline, coercion, retaliation, or staff convenience. Restraint and seclusion should only be used by properly-trained staff and only with the degree of force and the amount of time necessary for the imminent danger of serious physical harm to dissipate. 6 The following must never be used: prone restraint, any intervention that restricts a student’s breathing, chemical restraint, mechanical restraint.
Footnote 6: Teachers and other personnel should be trained regularly on the appropriate use of effective alternatives to physical restraint and seclusion, such as positive behavioral interventions and supports.
Data regarding the use of seclusion and restraint should be collected and publicly-reported. Incidents of seclusion or restraint causing serious injury or death should be reported to DRC.
In order to address behavioral concerns, schools should develop behavioral intervention plans. Behavioral intervention plans must be:
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LEGISLATION & PUBLIC INFORMATION UNIT
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