LAUSD Prevails in Special Education Case

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 5, 2014) – On campuses with special education centers and traditional schools,
L. A.Unified is integrating students with moderate to severe disabilities with general education students into classes, recess, lunch, sports and schoolwide activities. The District is also offering increased integration opportunities for students with disabilities across L.A. Unified.  .
When two groups of parents challenged the implementation of the Chanda Smith Modified Consent Decree (“MCD”) Outcome 7 which requires increased integration for all students with disabilities, Senior, U.S. District Court Judge Ronald S. W. Lew ruled in favor of the District.  Judge Lew noted that the inclusion of special education students into the general education program has been a primary issue for L.A. Unified. for two decades. 

A class action lawsuit resulted in the Chanda Smith consent decree in 1996.  Although modified in 2003, that consent decree still requires increased levels of integration for students with disabilities, based on individual needs, as do federal and state special education laws.

The two groups of parents sought to intervene into the consent decree in an effort to maintain the status quo of educating students with moderate to severe disabilities at completely segregated campuses.
“This is a civil rights victory for our students with special needs,” said Superintendent John Deasy. “We are co-locating special education centers on general education campuses to end the outdated practice of segregating students on the basis of disability. This District is committed to providing educational benefit for all students.”
In order to further integration and inclusion of students with disabilities throughout the District, four special education centers co-located at campuses with a general education school were integrated at the start of the current school year. At the co-located schools, students with moderate to severe disabilities must participate with their non-disabled peers in general education classes an average of 12 percent of the instructional day and during lunch, breaks, recess and school-wide activities to comply with the consent decree.

Increased integration activities are also taking place Districtwide in compliance with federal and state special education laws and regulations. Special Education centers continue to be part of the District’s continuum of program options available to Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams.
“The LAUSD’s vision is for every student to be college-prepared and career-ready.  Inclusive education ensures that all students reach high expectations, feel valued, have their differences respected and are provided equal academic, social and behavioral opportunities.  Judge Lew’s ruling supports this vision,” said Sharyn Howell, executive director of Special Education, for LAUSD. “

Contact: Tom Waldman (213) 241-6766