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School district sued for denying special education classes

There have been two separate lawsuits recently filed in federal court concerning possible difficulties that parents have faced regarding the education of their children. In one of these matters parents claim that school officials would not provide their daughter with special education services.

The young girl in question is said to suffer from "Chiari Malformation." This medical condition apparently affects the girl's brain and place significant limitations upon her ability to walk or even hold onto a pencil. However, it seems the school did not identify the girl as having the type of disabilities that would require special education. The parents reported that instead of providing the girl with special education classes (as is required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), school officials provided "Response to Intervention" techniques that included monitoring of the child.

The parents allege that school officials have been outwardly hostile towards their grievances. The girl's grandmother was purportedly told that the family should stop complaining. It was reported that the school had also told Department of Children Services' investigators that the parents were abusing and neglecting their daughter - claims that the DCS had determined to be "unsubstantiated."

While special education issues are a distinct area of law, assuring that one's child is properly educated also makes this a very vital area as well. The concerns of parents when it comes to these matters require personal attention as many of these matters are extremely fact specific.

If what is alleged in this lawsuit is accurate, this matter does demonstrate difficulties that parents face when it involves the special education needs of their children. Though we in California will have to wait upon the outcome of this special education lawsuit, schools sometimes are guilty of making a number of mistakes when it comes to our children. These mistakes can be in violation of the law or be counter to various public policy concerns.

Too often schools fail to put into place safeguards that would protect parents' rights. Parents may be excluded from the decision-making when it comes to their children's educational needs. And sometimes schools simply deny eligibility for certain programs due to claims of insufficient funding - though funding should not be used as an excuse for denying eligibility.

Source: The Tennessean, "Separate lawsuits claim Williamson schools discriminated against disabled students," Kevin Walters, Dec. 23, 2013

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