San Francisco Education Law Blog

The benefits of hiring a special education law attorney

Special needs students require precisely that: special needs. These students perform differently than children who are not on the spectrum. They can't be taught and disciplined in the same manner. Doing so can cause problems. Special needs children require specific programs and climates to excel.

The unfortunate reality is that many schools, especially under-budgeted public schools, aren't provided the resources needed to help students succeed and thrive. This is especially true for students who need unique attention.

Workplace retaliation can have many different faces

It is simple: retaliation is illegal. California employers cannot threaten, terminate or demote an employee in response to the employee engaging in a protected action, such as reporting discrimination. And most employers know this.

However, that is why retaliation is often subtle, making it difficult for employees to recognize it at all. So, what can subtle workplace retaliation look like?

Issues with school suspensions in rural California

It is important to allow every child the opportunity to complete their high-school education. Unfortunately, that cannot occur if schools prevent students from attending class.

One California school is facing investigation by the California Bureau of Children’s Justice for the numbers of student suspensions – suspensions often occurring for relatively minor infractions. Rather than look for alternative punishments, there are allegations that the school continually resorts to suspensions and expulsions. Most concerning is the investigation of the school board’s treatment of homeless and foster children.

IEEs vs. Private Assessments

Your child has an IEP. The school district just conducted her triennial psychoeducational evaluation. You disagree with the report and believe that the assessor made mistakes in testing your daughter. As usual, the school district won't budge. Now what? 

Strategies for confronting cyberbullying with your child

Social media and the internet can provide a place of inclusivity and positivity for children with special needs and learning disabilities. However, it can also provide a convenient venue for cyberbullying. As a parent, you may wonder what you can do.

In today's world, cyberbullying is an unfortunate reality in which special needs children can be particularly vulnerable. Parents throughout the Bay Area, Southern California and across the country can take steps to learn the signs of cyberbullying, strategies to confront the issue with their child and potential legal options.

Section 504 Plans Are Lousy For Bright Kids With Behavioral Issues

Your son has Autism. Or ADHD. Maybe both. His school district gives him a 504 Plan -- not an IEP -- because his grades are generally not terrible. Yet, his ongoing behavioral and social-emotional challenges cause him to be suspended and disciplined nearly constantly. The District still will not provide him -- or even assess him for -- an IEP. What do you do?


Academic performance is but one determinant of IEP eligibility, but there is no requirement that a student with a disability must fail to maintain grade-level performance before a school district must take action to alleviate the disability's impairment of the child's ability to make appropriate progress in light of his circumstances. (See e.g., In County of San Diego v. California Special Education Hearing Office, et al. (9th Cir. 1996) 93 F.3d 1458, 1467 (holding that educational benefit is not limited to academic needs, but includes the social and emotional needs that affect academic progress, school behavior, and socialization).

Residential Treatment

Your son has an IEP. He has severe behavioral challenges and physically aggresses towards peers and school staff, including bringing weapons to school. He is consistently unable to meet his IEP goals. Nothing is working and you fear for his safety. When should you consider residential placement?

School districts must make available a "continuum of alternative placements." (34 C.F.R. § 300.115(a).) Notwithstanding the emphasis on educating students in the least restrictive environment, "residential placement is appropriate for a disabled child if necessary for [him] to receive benefit from [his] education." (Seattle School Dist., No. 1 v. B.S. (9th Cir. 1996) 82 F.3d 1493, 1500; 34 C.F.R. § 300.104.)

Records Challenges

Your son is a special-education student. The school district just issued a Prior Written Notice containing verifiably untrue statements and personal attacks on you and your advocate. What do you do?

Your daughter is a general-education student. She just received a five-day suspension for alleged conduct she didn't commit. You worry that this suspension will come back to haunt her when she applies to college or a job. Now what?

Can a child with special needs be suspended or expelled?

It is always difficult for parents to find out that their child is in trouble at school, especially if the child’s behavior may lead to suspension or expulsion. Suspension and expulsion are two of the most severe forms of disciplinary action a school can take, and they can have a lasting impact on a child.

If your child has special needs and faces suspension or expulsion, you may wonder if such severe action is appropriate under the circumstances. However, your child’s school can suspend or expel a special education student for the same reasons it can suspend or expel a typical student.

Your Regional Center just discontinued -- or reduced -- services in your Individual Program Plan (IPP). You disagree. Now what?

The Notice of Proposed Action (NOPA) describing the change in services will provide you information on how to appeal. If your appeal is postmarked or received by the Regional Center within 10 days of the NOPA, you are entitled to "aid paid pending," meaning that the Regional Center must continue to fund or provide the disputed service(s) while the appeal is pending. (Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code § 4715(a).) 

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