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California enacts new special-ed law relevant to nonpublic schools

We know that many readers of our California special education legal blog remember well a horrific incident that occurred at a middle school in the state late last year.

That sad narrative was comprehensively reported in media outlets across California. It involves an episode at the now-defunct Guiding Hands, a nonpublic school that operated in the Sacramento area enclave of El Dorado Hills.

Criminal authorities are still investigating the matter. Although some details have not yet been publicly divulged, the gist of what happened at the school last November 28 is clear enough. A young boy with autism reportedly acted up and was physically restrained. School officials confined him in a face-down position for approximately an hour and 45 minutes.

Tragically, he died a day later at a local hospital.

The matter understandably inflamed passions across the state and led to sweeping changes. State regulators acted with dispatch to revoke the school’s operating certification. Guiding Hands was quickly shuttered permanently thereafter. Ironically, an existing state law already banned the restraint and isolation of students alleged to be disciplinary problems.

And now a new state enactment has emerged to safeguard special needs students at nonpublic schools. Assembly Bill 1172 took effect October 2. As noted in one recent media account, the legislation provides for immediate suspension of a nonpublic school where “a student’s health or safety has been compromised.” AB 1172 also requires nonpublic school officials to immediately report any student-linked incident that involves law enforcement to the California Department of Education.

A parent or other caregiver having questions or concerns regarding any matter germane to California special education can reach out for guidance and diligent representation to a proven special-ed attorney.

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