Below is a selection of responses to questions that many parents have asked.
Please note that the information below does not constitute legal advice.
Who is Concerned Parents Association?
Concerned Parents Association, also known as California Concerned Parents Association or CPA, is a nonprofit organization that serves to advance the status of students with disabilities. We believe that by helping children with disabilities receive an appropriate education, education for all students will improve. The CPA is run entirely by unpaid parents and advocates. We all work in a volunteer capacity and this is not a full-time job for any of us.
What is this case about?
In 2012, CPA joined with the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association (MHCPA) to bring suit against the California Department of Education (CDE), alleging that the CDE was not providing California’s children with disabilities with a free and appropriate public education as mandated by federal law.
Our members have provided us with many examples showing that the CDE is failing to address their children’s needs. For example, many parents have experienced districts attempting to provide their child with speech and language services instead of the more costly Individualized Education Program (IEP). Other parents have had difficulty receiving an appropriate assessment of their child or securing appropriate educational services, especially if those services have involved high costs. Many parents have had trouble getting appropriate behavioral support plans – a fact that has impeded their child’s educational progress in a significant way. We have seen many parents of young children who have lost their IEPs upon entering first grade and for whom it has then taken years to regain a proper IEP. Other parents have joined us because they became frustrated with due process hearings, or were threatened with due process proceedings themselves.
If any of these scenarios unfortunately sound all too familiar, you may be interested in joining our organization. We are a dedicated group of parents and advocates, committed to fighting for the best interests of our children. Please follow the link above to access a membership form—we would love to hear your story and offer our support!
What information will you be collecting?
In order to vindicate the rights of these children, Plaintiffs’ legal team and experts require access to information about students in the state of California. Specifically, they seek information that school districts and SELPAs report to CDE and information that CDE reports to the federal government. This information takes the form of several large databases. CDE has represented that these databases may include information such as student demographic information, school district, and special education accommodations.
Why do you want my child’s social security number?
We do not want your child’s social security number. CDE has represented that social security numbers may be included in some databases, which they will be producing in their entirety. Any such production will be done subject to tight data security provisions overseen by the Court’s Special Master. Neither the association, nor its counsel will put in the public domain private information of any children whose parents did not specifically consent to the disclosure.
Why do you need my child’s data? My child is not a student with disabilities—why do you need his or her information?
Our representatives and consultants need data about students in California so that our statisticians can perform meaningful statistical sampling. They need data points so that they can pull a representative sample of the California student population. The statisticians will pull a random, statistically significant sample of student data and perform statistical analysis on that sample only, so that they can look at metrics, such as whether a disproportionate number of certain ethnicities receive certain services.
Isn’t this just about Morgan Hill? Why do you need information about all students?
Although this case originated in Morgan Hill, it is about the CDE’s systemic failure to provide children with disabilities in the entire state of California with their statutory entitlement to a free appropriate public education. We have received countless calls from parents all over the state detailing similar problems in their own districts. We believe that CDE’s argument that the examples we have provided in our complaint are isolated cases of problems that could be easily resolved in individual due process hearings must be countered.
Why do you need information about all children since 2008 instead of just current students?
Our statisticians need information from 2008 to show that the examples we have are not random. These incidents have been repeating themselves, at least since 2008.
What are you getting out of this?
The only thing the CPA stands to gain in this lawsuit is improved education services for children with disabilities in California. The CPA wants to improve education, as well as ensure that the CDE is held accountable to all of the students it serves. This lawsuit seeks no monetary damages.
How can I object to having my child’s information disclosed?
If you still have concerns about the use of your child’s information in connection with this litigation, you are welcome to complete and submit the objection form posted on the CDE’s website.
What else should I read?
How can I contact you with my story or to ask more questions?
We would be happy to speak with you and to address your concerns. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Please be aware that, though we can speak to you about your concerns and provide more details about this lawsuit, we cannot offer you any legal advice.
For media requests, please contact our Parent Volunteer Media Liaison Christine English at email@example.com or 213-326-5430. For general interviews, please review this prior to calling. For interviews related to the February 29, 2016, please read our press release before calling.