Lawsuit Summary – What’s going on

Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association (MHCPA) / California Concerned Parents Association (CCPA) litigation Vs. California Department of Education (CDE)

We wish to provide parents of Students with Disabilities (SWD), and parents of students with suspected of disabilities, clarity on the allegations made in this litigation.  We have observed a number of areas where CDE fails to enforce federal law in providing a free and appropriate public education for children with disabilities.  This means that CDE doesn’t require that schools educate these children.  Some of the problems we see are:

  1. CDE does not require districts to identify children with disabilities. This is referred to as “Child Find.”  This means schools must locate, identify and refer Students with Disabilities (SWD) for services.  The current law mandates that School Districts (SD)’s seek out and provide special education services to those in need.  This is not happening in many schools.  Some examples of failures we have seen include: refusing to do assess a child when it is requested by a parent, failing to provide a proposed assessment plan within 15 days of that request, incorrectly telling parents they must attend Student Study Teams (SST) rather than assessing the student as is required, and informing parents the SD would like to try a  504/SST prior to assessing and refusing to assess until a 504/SST is tried.
  2. CDE does not require schools to provide an Independent Educational Assessment (IEE) when a parent requests one. When a parent disagrees with the results of the assessment conducted by the school district, the parents have the right to request an outside evaluation at public expense.  Parents are often not informed of this right, or districts refuse to provide the assessment when it is requested.  CDE allows districts to incorrectly tell parents they must go to a specific evaluator, allows districts to not respond to IEE requests, fails to require districts to allow the IEE assessor to do a classroom observation, or allows districts to not exclude the independent evaluator from the Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting.
  3. CDE allows districts to use assessments which racially discriminate. CDE allows districts to not assess children in their native language.  These tests cause children to appear to have lower scores than they would have with a language or culturally appropriate tests.
  4. CDE allows schools to restrict parents’ participation in the education plan of their child. As a parent of a SWD, parents have a right to participate in the development of an individual education plan for their child.  This includes participating in the student’s IEP meetings, assessments, eligibility determination, and educational placement.  Parents have a right to record the meeting and receive a copy of all documents pertaining to their student.  Further, parents have a right to view a variety of placement options, not just the one the district likes.  We have observed that parents are often attending a meeting and being told there is only one placement option.  We have observed schools determining a placement before the meeting, and refusing to allow parents to make changes to that plan.
  5. CDE does not require districts to have a general education teacher present in IEP meetings. A general education teacher must be in an IEP team meeting when a child attends or may attend any part of general education.   This prevents the parent from having input into the child’s participation with typical peers, and may indicate that the school has already decided not to discuss participation in a regular education program.
  6. CDE does not require districts to provide Prior Written Notice (PWN). Schools are required to provide parents with information about decisions related to their child and the that information is used to make that decision.  Parents are often not given the reason that a decision is based on, and sometimes are parents ignored as a way to deny the student a service.
  7. CDE does not verify that services are provided according to the individual education plan. CDE does not verify that assessments are completed within the time allowed by law.  CDE does not verify that schools respond to a parent’s written request for clarification.  CDE does not require that schools provide progress reports three times a year as required by law.  CDE does not verify that an individual education plan include goals for all areas for which a student needs services.  CDE fails to require districts to hold an IEP meeting once a year.  CDE does not require school to develop a transition plan for students who are 16 years of age or older, as required by law.  CDE goes so far as to reports that schools “facilitate parent involvement” without verifying that the school does involve parents.
  8. CDE fails to ensure that students with disabilities are receiving an appropriate education. For example, CDE fails to ensure that schools provide behavioral supports when behavior impedes learning.  CDE does not ensure that schools provide social, emotional, and academic support which will enable each SWD the ability to access the curriculum, attend higher education, and acquire independent living.


California Department of Education (CDE)

  1. CDE fails to investigate, monitor, and enforce that students are benefiting from their education. One example of this is that when a complaint is filed with CDE, no investigation is done.  Another example is that the CDE investigator calls the SD and relies solely on input given to them by the SD.  CDE then fails to get any parent input other than what was contained in the original complaint.  CDE also fails to perform investigations when this error is reported.
  2. CDE fails to make adequate progress to improve the data reported to the U.S. Office of Education.
  3. CDE fails to ensure that school districts make progress after CDE finds they are deficient in educating students with disabilities.
  4. CDE fails to ensure that districts perform self-reviews accurately, and then relies on districts self-reporting.
  5. CDE does not follow CA Education Code in their investigation. For example, although parents are allowed copies of notes and verification that the notes are accurate with the entire team present, schools refuse to provide meeting notes to the parents, and tell the parents that the school decides what goes into an IEP document.  Even when the parent has an audio recording of the district violating the law, CDE allows the district to break the law because the parent attended the meeting.