Lawsuit alleges that SDUSD staff ignored requirements to draft a new learning plan for an autistic 12-year-old.
  • Lawsuit alleges that SDUSD staff ignored requirements to draft a new learning plan for an autistic 12-year-old.
  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Parents of an autistic child filed a lawsuit against San Diego Unified School District alleging administrators failed to follow a specialized education plan for their 12-year-old son.

According to the lawsuit, filed in federal court on July 29, the mother and her son recently relocated to San Diego from a school district in Del Mar. Upon the boy's enrollment the mother gave district staff her son's education plan, which outlined the boy's learning and emotional needs. The boy was found to have "significant delays in receptive and expressive language," according to a 2012 document. In addition, the boy struggled socially and often exhibited self-stimulating behaviors such as "rocking back and forth, pacing, jumping up and down, and/or, making high pitched sounds."

In an effort to help the student cope, school administrators required four hours of specialized instruction per day, 30 minutes of speech and occupational therapy each school week.

The boy's mother, however, claims San Diego Unified School District refused to follow the previous nonpublic-school's education plan and instead placed the boy in a large middle school. At the same time, district staff allegedly ignored requirements to draft a new learning plan.

"The district refused to implement [student's] previously agreed upon and implemented [education plan] for 30 days as required by law, and instead offered [student] placement at a large, comprehensive middle school site, which the district erroneously labeled as 'comparable' to a nonpublic school placement."

In June of this year, an administrative judge denied the mother's request to force the district to follow the previous plan, prompting the mother to file the lawsuit.

The lawsuit will now move forward in federal court.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from around the web


jemsd Aug. 3, 2015 @ 9:54 p.m.

So the mother marches into the new school district and demands that they follow her son's educational plan from another district. When they deviate from the Del Mar plan, she sues. I am assuming that she is suing for the long green. It makes sense that she would sue going from Del Mar to San Diego than the other way around. The pockets are much deeper in San Diego. It sounded like the San Diego district was trying to be accommodating. I don't really know the whole story but if the lawsuit's primary purpose is to " financially compensate" this family than how dare they use their autistic child to take advantage of some monetary loophole. If the parents are suing for a policy change within the school district that would accommodate educational plans from other districts for autistic children than I would stand corrected and kick my own ass. I don't suspect there will be any ass kicking here tonight.,


AlexClarke Aug. 4, 2015 @ 6:08 a.m.

It seems that the fastest growing segment of K-12 students are "special needs" children. The number of teachers choosing special needs education is much greater than math & science teachers. The shrink community would have you believe that all students are special needs. All students need help from time to time but the forced accommodation and mainstreaming of special needs students is destroying the public education system. Private and charter schools do not have to accept any and every student while the public schools have to take all comers. No wonder our children come out of high school with no knowledge or skills. All classes have to dumb down to the special needs population.


jnojr Aug. 4, 2015 @ 9:21 a.m.

Well, in a world where everyone is special, everyone is a snowflake, everyone is a victim; of course we all need special privileges and treatment! Why, I can't be treated like everyone else!

This is yet another argument for education vouchers... let mainstream public schools provide a basic education, and let everyone with "special needs" take their voucher and go to a specialized program.


Visduh Aug. 4, 2015 @ 7:17 a.m.

This narrative is confusing. It refers to the former school as "from a school district in Del Mar", but soon says that school was non-public. There's only one school district in Del Mar, and it has the name of "Del Mar Union School District" and that is definitely public. So, what happened is a private or parochial school in that community had a plan for the student, and she alleges that San Diego Unified, the slobberin' school district, refused to follow it. It also appears that SDUSD didn't set about to create its own plan for him either.

Personal experience with parents of special ed kids has shown them to often be highly demanding, often unreasonable in their expectations, and litigious. Lawsuits filed by such parents are an everyday occurrence in many school districts, and add to the cost of running the schools, with little or no benefit to any of the students.


jnojr Aug. 4, 2015 @ 9:25 a.m.

It is a quandry... my girlfriend's son is on the spectrum, and he simply cannot be in a regular classroom. But where do we strike the balance? Obviously, parents always want 100% of everything for their child... personalized attention, aides, therapies, etc. But how much can the district spend on one kid? Times how many special needs kids? How many "regular" kids get shortchanged because huge amounts of money go to a tiny segment of the student population? And don't get me started on, "Well, we need more money, then!"... public education already consumes half of the state's budget, and we have one of the worst systems in the nation (for the students... for the teachers, it's a gravy train with guaranteed lifetime jobs, salaries far above the median, taxpayer-backed pensions for decades, free or extremely cheap Cadillac benefits packages, etc.)


Visduh Aug. 4, 2015 @ 4:39 p.m.

What we've been told for years is that in this state, special education is chronically underfunded, and that if we spent on it like many other states do, the problems would be much less. I've been suspicious of that, but it is true that California's per-capita outlays are now among the lowest in the nation. That's not because we don't spend hugely on education overall, but because there are so many students.

I'd like to think that vouchers would get us out of the quandary, but if they ended up working the way many charter schools work, we would be worse off.

About thirty years ago, the federal government made a big power grab into education, and one thing that came out of it was some mandates for special-needs students. One part of the law made the states classify a set percentage of students into special programs, and I think it was just about one in eight students. Never mind that a school or district might not have that many, based on testing and assessments. No, they have to have that many. If it is the 1:8 ratio that I recall, we're not talking about a small minority any more. That's a significant slice of the student population, and may go a long way toward explaining the costs and all the gnashing of teeth.


Sign in to comment

Win a $25 Gift Card to
The Broken Yolk Cafe

Join our newsletter list

Each newsletter subscription means another chance to win!