For parents who have a child with special needs, obtaining appropriate accommodations with the school district is a critical step to ensuring their child has a positive education experience. Unfortunately, obtaining accommodations is not always an easy process. In some cases, there can be challenges with eligibility, placement in the proper setting, or obtaining needed resources and services. In other cases, the difficulty may be having an established plan consistently carried out.
Ideally, any challenges in this area can be overcome by working closely with staff and supervisors in charge of the special education program. When this doesn’t work, it may be necessary to take taking a further step. Whatever the nature of the difficulty, parents who are unable to obtain the accommodations their child needs have the ability to file a complaint with the California Department of Education.
After a complaint is filed with the state, the first step in the process is for an investigator to examine the case and determine whether the school district was or was not in compliance with the law or the special needs student’s individualized education program (IEP). If the district was not in compliance, the department comes up with a corrective action plan detailing what the district needs to do to ensure that the student’s needs are properly addressed, and a timeline for carrying out the plan.
Complaints to the California Department of Education are not limited to challenges faced only by individual students, but may also concern a group of students or district-wide policies which violate federal or state special education law. In our next post, we’ll speak a bit more about the complaint process and how an attorney experienced in the area of education law can help one through the process.