Disability Rights California (DRC) Supports the end of court oversight for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
Designed to fit the needs of both service providers and clients, this webinar will explore: the differences between a psychiatric service animal and an emotional support animal; the rights of individuals with psychiatric service or emotional support animals, including the right to public access and reasonable accommodations; and the importance of assistance animals in recovery.
Disability Rights California (DRC) Supports the End of Court Oversight for Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)
On August 9, 2019, the federal court approved an agreement that will end the 1996 consent decree approved back in 1996. The consent decree addressed Los Angeles Unified School District’s (LAUSD), the second largest district in the nation, failure to meet their legal obligations to provide students with a broad range of disabilities access to appropriate education services. DRC became involved in the case because of its concerns that large number of students with significant disabilities inappropriately received their education in segregated schools or special classes without the opportunity to interact with their peers who did not have disabilities. The settlement also included the monitoring of the Consent Decree by a court approved monitor, who has overseen the district’s progress in meeting the goals of the settlement.
The current Independent Monitor, Dr. David Rostetter, will issue a final report on December 15, 2019, to help guide the District in ensuring compliance with all laws in the future. The Office of the Independent Monitor issued regular reports and assessments over the years that tracked the District’s progress in achieving the outcomes in the Modified Consent Decree. After termination of the lawsuit, DRC will maintain materials from the website for the Independent Monitor as a historical resource. http://oimla.com/
Catherine Blakemore, Executive Director of Disability Rights California, was one of the attorneys who helped craft the original consent decree along with Robert Myers of Newman Aaronson Vanaman LLP. Mr. Myers observed that “the District has achieved most of the data-driven outcomes in the Modified Consent Decree, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of Dr. Rostetter and the Office of the Independent Monitor.”
The litigation resulted in dramatic improvements in the District’s provision of services to special education students in areas such as reduction in suspension, increased graduation rates, translation of Individual Education Plans (IEPs) increased accessibility of schools and more opportunities to receive education in the least restrictive environment.
Some of the specific outcomes are including:
- Reduced Suspensions - In 2003-04, 12.73% of special education students received a suspension (9,671 students); in 2017-18, 1.31% received a suspension (971 students).
- Increased Graduation - In 2004-05, 60.2% of special education students received a diploma and 10.7% received a certificate of completion; in 2017-18, 73.6% of special education students received a diploma and 20.0% received a certificate of completion.
- Translating IEPs - In 2003-04, 7,947 IEPs were translated and only 8% were translated within 30 days and 41% taking more than 60 days. In 2017-18, 44,818 were translated and 99.99% were completed within 30 days.
- Increased Access to Credentialed Teachers - In 2003-04, 70.6% of special education teachers were appropriately credentialed; in 2017-18, the number was 85.81%. In 2003-04, only 41.1% of children who were characterized as emotionally-disturbed had a behavior support plan. In 2017-18, 100% of such children had such a plan.
- Disproportionate Identification of African American Students as Emotionally Disturbed - In 2004-05, only 2.7% of African-American children who were identified as emotionally disturbed met the legal criteria for such identification; in 2017-18, 92.5% met the legal criteria.
- Improved Complaint Responses - In 2003-04, 36% of parent complaint calls were responded to within 5 working days; in 2017-18, 75% were responded to within 5 days.
- Increased Access to Transition Plans - In 2003-04, 92.11% of eligible students had an individual transition plan; in 2017-18, 100% of students had such a plan.
In addition, the District made improvement in developing a; sophisticated system to receive, track, and resolve special education questions, concerns, and complaints; largely parent-staffed and supported Complaint Response Unit helping to resolve thousands of complaints without parents being forced into formal dispute resolution procedures; publicly accessible policy and procedure manuals and other information for parents that is readily accessible on-line; parent Portal providing up-to-date access for all parents regarding their students’ grades as well as current information about the provision of special education services.
Lastly, The District committed more than $67.5 million to improve the accessibility for students with physical and sensory disabilities and ended up spending far more than this amount. LAUSD spent an additional $20 million on a “rapid renovation” program to remove barriers and improve accessibility at local schools.
Additional History on the Chanda Smith Litigation Case
The original consent decree has been modified several times over the decades.