California Department of Education (CDE) Ruled in Favor of Students with Disabilities Denied Educational Services by the Bakersfield City School District Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Press Release
A little boy in a classroom wearing a medical mask to protect herself from COVID

(Bakersfield, CA) - On October 6th, the California Department of Education (CDE) ruled in favor of students with disabilities, declaring that the Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) failed to implement students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEP) to the “greatest extent possible” since distance learning began amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CDE ruled BCSD violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and ordered the District to make up services missed during distance learning and report monthly on services delivered to students going forward. 

On August 7, 2020, DRC filed a state compliance complaint on behalf of Antonio Armas, a 10-year-old student with a disability, and all similarly situated students, alleging that BCSD did not provide their IEP services for nearly five months.

At the start of the pandemic, the CDE and the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) made it clear that the IDEA remained in effect. Both agencies emphasized that school districts must continue to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to students with disabilities and implement IEPs consistent with the need to protect the health and safety of students and service providers.

“Special education is vital to students with disabilities. We want school districts across California to understand that the law still requires them to provide a free and appropriate public education to special education students even during this time of continued uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Robert Borrelle, supervising attorney at DRC.

“My son’s IEP services are a blessing, and without them he regressed significantly,” said Minerva Zamora, Antonio’s mother. “I am grateful that the state enforced his special education rights and the rights of other students with disabilities in the district during these difficult times.”

Media Contacts:

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California



Disability Rights California (DRC) - Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to advance the rights, dignity, equal opportunities, and choices for all people with disabilities. For more information visit: