The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) resolved an investigation today in which they found Los Angeles Unified School District had failed to provide special education services to students with disabilities during remote learning. Among the investigation's findings were the fact that the district "limited the services provided to students with disabilities based on considerations other than the students’ individual educational needs", that LAUSD "failed to accurately or sufficiently track services provided to students with disabilities", and that the district "failed to develop and implement a plan adequate to remedy the instances in which students with disabilities were not provided a (free and appropriate public education) during remote learning". These disturbing revelations are unfortunately no surprise to Learning Rights Law Center, as we work every day to address similar failures on behalf of students with disabilities. Our clients have extremely low incomes, often have limited English proficiency, and are vulnerable to the racial biases that are omnipresent in the education system. These barriers to obtaining appropriate education services have been exacerbated during the pandemic, and it has been disheartening to see how districts have failed to plan, serve, and support their students to the extent required by the law. Our education advocacy is a vital bulwark against instances where students were failed by their district, and we will continue to fight for the services that students need to thrive in school and beyond.
As LAUSD implements the system agreed upon by OCR, we will continue to help our families navigate learning in the second largest school district in the country, with all the benefits and drawbacks that come from LAUSD's sheer size. We also hope that this process of negotiation between LAUSD and the OCR will help those working in the district to heed the feedback of parents sooner and at a more local level. Students should not have to wait for the federal government to affirm the concerns raised by families in the district.