OCR finds retaliation by San Carlos schools from IEP meeting recording
Original post made
by PAUSD Parent, Old Palo Alto,
on Mar 15, 2014
A Daily News article reported yesterday that the OCR found retaliation by the San Carlos School District in a case based on a complaint filed by the parents of a child with special needs.
According to facts outlined in the OCR's letter of finding, as reported in the Daily News, the retaliation against the family resulted from a district official contacting the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and claiming the child's father secretly and illegally taped an IEP meeting with district educators.
A sheriff's deputy went to the family's home, but found no proof of a crime being committed.
The school district's attorney had allegedly advised school staff that under state law, it's illegal to record conversations without the consent of all participants. But state law does not apply to IEP meetings, the OCR's letter said.
The OCR found the call to law enforcement to be caused by the parents' advocacy actions on behalf of their child, and therefore was a form of retaliation prohibited by law due to its "deterrent and chilling effect on parents and their willingness to actively participate in their own children's education and advocate on their behalf." There was no harm sufficient to warrant such involvement by law enforcement.
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Posted by One of the OCR settlements
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 18, 2014 at 3:15 pm
I didn't ask you to move somewhere else, I asked you to grind your obvious axe against parents elsewhere.
Just an example:
>"Others like you file complaints with the federal government and sue the district so their child can get exactly what the parent wants. That costs the district money from staff time to lawyers "
That is you grinding an axe plain and simple, and there is nothing in what you said that bears any resemblance to what happened or the truth. You are spewing invective in generalities and don't know what you are talking about. I asked you to stop that, not move. You constructed a straw man and then leveled this long tirade against him, and your points bear no resemblance to what happened in our situations nor the specifics in this district that I have witnessed in the past few years.
First of all, our complaint had nothing to do with bullying, we didn't file a lawsuit against the district, and the district has not had to spend $1 million on our child by any stretch of the imagination.
We filed a complaint because our district did not even comply in the most fundamental way of having procedures in place and publicly available procedures the district writes themselves for students with disabilities. This is the most fundamental compliance and virtually all other districts in the country seem to have no trouble doing this. We brought this problem to the attention of the special ed department, the district, the schools, the board, and the administration at 25 Churchill over many months, in helpful and collaborative ways in the beginning, but it was not remedied. Why? I would have to agree with the above poster that:
"The biggest problem I see with friends whose kids have IEPs is getting the district to document what services have been provided, schedule meetings when they are supposed to, and generally to have an attitude of partnering with parents. Those are not big ticket items."
If our district people "generally [had] an attitude of partnering with parents" I believe most of these issues would be resolved simply, to the benefit of the children, and more cheaply.
The fact is, in our case, we bent over backwards trying to work with the district. Our district having an attitude of partnering with parents would have meant no need to complain to the government, and no need to go to lawyers on either side. We never sued the district, by the way, and never threatened it. We never even asked the district to reimburse us for thousands in expenses we incurred because of them, that were reimbursable, nor for medical expenses we incurred because of failures on their end.
Our child not getting to participate in a SCHOOL trip is the least of it (and technically, we could enforce that right), but it only adds to the completely unnecessary disconnection and alienation that comes from our district office having so little ethos of working with parents. I pointed it out because we DIDN'T ask the district to do anything for us or pay, and we couldn't do it on our own because we had to incur legal fees and medical costs last year almost solely because our district doesn't know how to work with parents.
The district is behaving as badly as malpractice lawyers who end up losing multi-million dollar settlements because they won't just learn the lesson of taking responsibility when a mistake is made and apologizing or paying for the damage. People like you blame the public endlessly for litigation, even while studies show that far less than 1% of overtly demonstrable cases of malpractice that result in injury or death result in lawsuits, and other studies show that an apology and taking responsibility for mistakes is far cheaper when suits do happen. Our district could learn from that, since it's "just business" to you -- working with people is ultimately the better, cheaper way -- if it can't learn from the fact that it's a SCHOOL DISTRICT.
My family went through our own little hell with the district last year because of that horrible attitude they have toward parents, and we were trying to make a difference for everyone's children (not just disabled children). If I had been doing what you say, I would have gotten the lawyer to demand putting my child in a private school where they could accommodate, not sacrificing (and, truth be told, not able to spend enough time trying to get my own child's educational needs met) to make our district better for everyone. At one point, I did almost give in and go that route, and my child looked very distressed and said if we did, would I promise to keep fighting to help everyone else? (And FYI, some of the individual accommodations that only affected our child, we offered to pay for in the beginning.)
For families in school districts, it IS personal. But if you want to make it about business, learn the lesson that it's far cheaper to just do the right thing and work with people. And the lesson the school districts enjoy their autonomy for the purpose of being accountable to the local parenting community.
I hope Ken does run, because I'd like to see someone reasonable like him, who deals with the actual facts and cares about families, and doesn't just run ramshod over parents with some ideologically driven [portion removed] like you have laid out there.
And by the way, the government rules actually require districts to proactively identify children who need the legal protections and extend them without even asking! Our district didn't even have procedures in place for the parents who needed to ask, and if they asked, the district played dumb. Do you know why the government has those rules? Studies show it's far cheaper and better for the students in the long run.