COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 
 Home > News > The Special Ed Advocate News Alert, July 5, 1999

The Special Ed Advocate newsletter
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

June 5-8 - San Antonio, TX

Aug. 22 - TRT-CLE

Sept. 24 - MD via ZOOM

Full Schedule


Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
  Disability Groups
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

Santa Clara County Prepares to Take On School Districts

(The following article was written by Craig Anderson and published in the L. A. Daily Journal)

Santa Clara County supervisors have  approved a plan to hire new county legal staff to make sure school districts are meeting their obligation to provide individualized  attention to students who need special education even if that  means filing lawsuits against the districts.

While county officials emphasized they prefer to work with school districts on the matter, and said lawsuits would be a "last resort", education officials said they feared the hiring of an attorney signaled a confrontational approach.
"If you hire a lawyer, she will sue" complained Sanda Jo Spiegel, president of the county school boards association. "It's not in the interests of kids if (legal fights) use up resources that are supposed to go to them".

School officials’ objections carried less weight with the supervisor than did arguments by several judges and other county criminal justice officials that children who do not get the attention they need in school often end up in trouble with the law.

The supervisors approved the plan Monday by a 4-1 vote.

Few of the children in the county’s juvenile court have the up-to-date individual education plans that California schools are required to provide under state law, according to Superior Court Judge Read Ambler, who led the effort to force school administrators to do more.

Judge Ambler cited statistics showing that 30 percent of the youths housed in Juvenile Hall had been identified as requiring special education, but that only 10 percent of the children had a current plan.

Proponents say it costs three times as much --$31,000 a year--- to house a child in juvenile detention facilities as it does to pay for special education.

"We've learned a lot about how important it is that these children with attention deficit disorders be diagnosed and dealt with as soon as possible" said Supervisor Blanca Alvarado. "We are on the right track to improve the life chances for our kids."

The program will be run by the county counsel's office, which will hire a full-time attorney and paralegal to work with school districts to ensure that the needs of children with learning disabilities are being met.

Districts are required to conduct an assessment of a student's special education needs if a parent asks for one. If the student is deemed eligible, districts are supposed to develop individual plans.

These plans could involve hiring a tutor for a student who remains  in a mainstream classroom, or putting a child in a smaller classroom where he or she can receive more attention, officials said.  A student with more severe problems could be placed in a private school, at the district's expense.

Parents can challenge school districts over the adequacy of a child's individual program.  But many lack the knowledge, financial resources or willingness to pursue administrative remedies or lawsuits, according to Probation Department employee Rosalee Brouillette.

County Counsel Ann Ravel soft-pedaled the possibility of filing lawsuits against school districts that fail in their legal obligations. "Our office always attempts to mediate and discuss before any lawsuit is filed", she said.

Still, the threat of litigation is clearly designed to get the districts’ attention.

"Collaboration has had limited success," said Supervisor Pete McHugh.

School officials complained that they were being threatened with litigation over a problem they want to fix. The problem, they said, is that they are in a financial bind because federal and state governments have imposed special education mandates without providing adequate funds to implement them.

"We are also advocates for special needs children and care very much about the appropriate diagnosis.", said Linda Murray, superintendent of the San Jose Unified School District. "The dollars would be much better spent in an advocacy role together."

Other school officials complained that they found about the county proposal just days before was approved by the supervisors.

Supervisor Joe Simitian asked that hiring of legal staff to deal with special education issues be postponed for six months so county officials could have" genuinely collaborative conversation with the school districts."

But the other supervisors all wanted to forge ahead immediately, and the motion to approve the $297,000 proposal passed with only Simitian opposed.

Santa Clara County’s special education program is not the only one in the state to face criticism. Investigators with the state Department of Education issued a scathing report earlier this year, charging that San Francisco’s schools are out of compliance with state and federal laws.

Writer: Craig Anderson, Daily Journal Staff Writer

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 3rd Edition by Pete and Pam Wright
About the Book

To Order

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

To Order

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

To Order

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

To Order


Copyright © 1998-2024, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map