Special Ed Suit Against CA, Newsom Settled, Acknowledging Federal and State Law Requires In-Person Services for Students with Special Needs

Students who did not receive IEP services when schools closed in March 2020 are entitled to compensatory education.

Newswise — The Special Education Division of the Law Firm of Sheila C. Bayne has a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District court, Central District of California, case no. 5:20-cv-01796 against the Governor of California, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the California Department of Public Health, its Director, and the State Public Health Officer, State Board of Education on behalf of our plaintiff’s and 800,000 children in California schools with special needs. In settling the suit, Governor Gavin Newsom acknowledges that Federal and State Law require students with special needs be provided with services in their Individualized Education Program (IEP), regardless of school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After the settlement, Governor Newsom unveiled California’s Safe Schools for All Plan, setting the record straight and setting precedent for other states.  

California Governor Gavin Newsom states:  

None of the executive orders or public health directives issued in California in response to the COVID-19 pandemic purport to waive the IDEA, which entitles eligible children with disabilities to special education and related services through an IEP. 

The State of California Expects, and State law requires, that schools implementing distance learning will deliver services required under IEPs. 

Senate Bill 98, which was enacted in conjunction with the Budget Act of 2020, includes requirements for schools that provide distance learning as a result of being closed for in-person instruction during the 2020-21 school year.

The firm continues to sue the 977 School Districts that continue to violate Federal and State Laws by failing to provide students services listed in their IEPs during distance learning.  

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit accepted the lawsuit against the remaining defendants, Tony Thurmond, California Superintendent of Public Instruction and nearly 977 school districts across the State of California.

The entire Settlement Agreement can be found at autismlaws.com and covid19classact.com

James D. Peters III, Executive Director of the Special Education Law Firm states, It is inconceivable how School Districts sent students with disabilities to learn from home without providing the necessary supports needed to address their disabilities knowing it violated Federal and State Law. However, they did.”   

See NBC California News Affiliate Channel 3 in Sacramento.

Students with disabilities who had services in their IEPs were knowingly sent home to learn without districts providing the necessary supports, documented in the students IEPs they needed to address their disabilities, including but not limited to trained 1:1 aide support, behavioral intervention which requires a behavioral trained aide, speech and language services required by in-person speech and language augmented communication specialist, and occupation and physical therapy by licensed professionals. 

Students were knowingly sent home without assessment of their conditions. To appropriately address the accommodations needed in the Distant learning model of education. Instead, they dumped all responsibility on the parents. Parents who are not trained in special education,  speech therapy, physical therapy, or how to teach their Children with maladaptive behaviors or licensed to provide these in-person services. Not to mention the more than $1.5 billion set aside to help special needs students, that most parents see no evidence those funds have trickled down to the Special needs Students.   

Many school districts continue to inform parents distance learning did not require school districts to provide services which are in the IEP. "We believe," says Peters, "that every school district who refused to implement and provide in-person and other related services in the student’s IEP were violating Federal and State laws guaranteed under IDEA."   

It appears the California Governor has clearly separated himself from the Superintendent of Public Instruction by settling the case. And informing Parents of SB98, and the fact, “The State of California expects, and State law requires, that schools implementing distance learning will deliver services required under IEPs.”  

School districts that fail to provide special education services in a student’s IEP have violated the law In California. "We believe this is also true in every state in America, as State laws must mirror Federal Education laws," says Peters.  

The Governor’s statement will not only assist students in California, but it will lead the way for other states as well.

"We will be meeting with a number of Governors and U.S. Senators very soon," says Peters. "In essence the Governor acknowledges, when schools closed in March school districts never should have terminated special education and related services in student’s IEPs."

Under the settlement, it is understood parents and students can immediately demand services in their child’s IEP be implemented. Students can immediately demand compensatory services for regression and file lawsuit against the school district if they fail to provide compensatory services or failed to provide services in the students' IEPs.   

Due to Covid19 and the stories of families with kids with moderate to Severe Disabilities, representation will be provided to students for no cost to Parents for the first 50 cases, on a first come, first serve basis. The firm will attempt to represent any Student in California who has an IEP with services, where the Student’s District failed to provide those services when schools were closed in March 2020, regardless of whether they have reopened schools recently.  

"We have also determined students are receiving far less aide support," says Peters. Aide support typically assists with Speech and Language communication, ABA services, Behavioral support, Resource support, Parent Training and additional services and programs Students are entitled to. "If we represent a student," says Peters, "we will request appropriate services at no additional charge."   

Any Student who wishes to be listed on the class Action lawsuit may do so at no cost to them. Our Law Firm will also provide information to Families and Law firms across the Country, to assist families seeking compensatory services. as well as pushing elected officials to follow Federal and State laws regarding providing services to Students with moderate to Severe disabilities who have services in their IEPs, who have been sent home without those services with a Distant Learning model. 


Special Education Division Contacts:

Newport 949-636-6994

Sacramento 916-696-1662

Beverly Hills 310-251-5844

San Diego 619-204-6998

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