California Department of Education (CDE) Rules in Favor of Students with Disabilities at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Students may qualify for compensatory services
Press Release

California Department of Education (CDE) Rules in Favor of Students with Disabilities at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Image of a woman teaching a young girls who has a disability. They are both wearing COVID masks.
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(Los Angeles, CA) - On June 7th, the California Department of Education (CDE) ruled in favor of students with disabilities, stating that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) was out of compliance with special education law. CDE concluded that LAUSD failed to provide timely assessment plans, and hold individualized education program (IEP) meetings within 60 days for the many students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This decision came after Disability Rights California (DRC) filed a state compliance complaint on behalf of a 17-year-old student with a disability and students with similar situations at LAUSD.  The allegations were that LAUSD had not conducted special education assessments and was violating other elements of Special Education Law.

Special education assessments are formal evaluations of a student’s disability or suspected disability. Under federal and state law, school districts must conduct special education assessments to determine if a student qualifies for special education. Once a student qualifies for special education, school districts must conduct special education re-assessments every three years. Special education assessments tell the student’s IEP team about a child’s needs and are critical to providing students with disabilities the Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to which they are legally entitled. 

The CDE ruled that LAUSD violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law that protects students with disabilities. The CDE ordered LAUSD to correct its violations of special education law. By June 25, 2021, CDE ordered LAUSD to:

  • Report the status of overdue assessment plans to CDE;
  • Provide a report to the CDE of the students who have overdue assessments; and
  • Provide evidence that LAUSD is implementing its plan to complete outstanding assessments.

From July 9, 2021 to December 31, 2021, LAUSD must provide a bi-weekly update to the CDE regarding their progress on completing overdue assessments. Also, by December 31, 2021, LAUSD must:

  • Develop a plan to provide students with compensatory services for delayed assessments; and
  • Send letters to parents letting them know that their student is eligible to receive compensatory services.

Students may be eligible for compensatory services including those who qualify for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the first time, and students who already qualified for an IEP but receive a new or increased service.

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

“The California Department of Education has made it clear that even during the COVID-19 pandemic, all students with disabilities must be provided with a free, appropriate public education. All students who are or may be eligible for special education must have up-to-date assessments and timely IEP meetings in order to ensure that their individual needs are being met by the District, and the District is responsible for making up for delayed assessments or services,” says Neeraj Kumar, attorney at Disability Rights California.

Upcoming Event

On August 16, 2021, DRC will hold an informational session for parents and families interested in learning more about their rights under these CDE orders. Anyone may attend this ZOOM training. The presentation will be translated in Spanish, captioned, and materials will be provided. For more information about this session visit:

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Disability Rights California
(916) 504-5938



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: