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Special education refers to a range of educational and social services provided by the public school system and other educational institutions to individuals with disabilities who are between birth and 21 years of age.
Special education is designed to ensure that students with disabilities are provided with an environment that allows them to be educated effectively.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
It provides a full range of program options to meet the educational and service requirements of individuals with exceptional needs in the LRE.
The LRE is generally the setting that is most similar to those attended by general education students.
NOTICE TO PARENTS
Date: February 1, 2016
Subject: Official Message from the Interim Director of Special Education For the California Department of Education
In April 2012, two organizations, the Morgan Hill Concerned Parents Association and the Concerned Parent Association (Plaintiffs), filed a lawsuit against the California Department of Education (CDE) alleging widespread, systemic non-compliance by local education agencies with the IDEA and Section 504. The suit also alleges the CDE fails to monitor, investigate and correct such non-compliance in accordance with the law. (See case # 2:11-cv-03471-KJM-AC) The CDE denies these allegations and is actively defending the litigation.
As part of the litigation discovery process, Plaintiffs have requested numerous documents, as well as student data collected and stored by the CDE. Many of the requested documents and data stored in the CDE databases contain personally identifiable information (PII) of children, including children with disabilities, children who requested an assessment or who were assessed for special education eligibility, and children who are attending, or who have attended, a California school at any time since January 1, 2008. Although the CDE has contested the production of such information, the court at this juncture has ordered the CDE to produce to Plaintiffs’ legal counsel documents and data that contain student PII. Included in the court’s order to produce documents and data is a Protective Order prohibiting the Plaintiffs and their legal counsel from disclosing confidential information acquired in the course of the lawsuit, including PII, to anyone other than the parties, their attorneys and consultants, and the Court. None of this information may be used outside the context of this lawsuit; no student’s identifying records will be disclosed to the public.
As you know, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) sets out the requirements for the protection of privacy of parents and students, including privacy of student records. Generally, parents and/or students must provide written consent before an educational agency may disclose PII. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Specifically, an educational agency must provide PII when ordered by a court, which the CDE has been ordered to do in this litigation. The CDE is obligated to inform the parent or student that the court has ordered it to produce documents and/or data that includes those individuals’ PII, and that such persons may object directly to the court regarding this disclosure. To that end, and to comply with FERPA, the CDE is requesting LEAs and SELPAs post the following link to CDE’s website http://www.cde.ca.gov/morganhillcase from February 1, 2016, through April 1, 2016. The link provides the Notice and Objection Form required by FERPA.
Individual Education Plan
Each student that is determined to have a disability has a yearly plan called an Individual Education Plan or IEP. An IEP is developed by a team of individuals that are familiar with the student’s needs.
The IEP team, of which the parent is an important member, determines a student's eligibility and identifies any needed program, aids, services, and instruction considered necessary for the student to progress in school. The needed program, aids, and services must be provided in the LRE.
Special Education Defined by the California Education Code
The California Education Code (Section 56031) defines special education as:
- Specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of individuals with exceptional needs, whose educational needs cannot be met with modification of the general instruction program
- Related services that help individuals with special needs to benefit from specially designed instruction. Special education is an integral part of the total public education system. Other features of special education are:
- It is provided in a way that promotes maximum interaction between students with and without disabilities in a manner which is appropriate to the needs of both;
- Services are provided at no cost to parents;
- It provides a full range of program options to meet the educational and service requirements of individuals with exceptional needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE is generally the setting that is most similar to those attended by general education students.