San Diego Special Education law Blog

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Welcome to the San Diego Special Education Law Blog! 

Special education law is a complex web of federal and state statutes, implementing regulations, and case law. The "law" is constantly evolving. This blog is intended to keep you informed regarding the latest legal changes and court decisions, as well as relevant news that impacts the special needs community, particularly parents and their children.

This blog, along with the content on the website, is designed to give you the knowledge you need to successfully navigate the special education system in San Diego and surrounding areas. If you have questions or feel like you would like to know more about a specific special education topic or issue, please let Paul know. If you're asking about it, chances are good that others would be interested in learning more about it too.

FAPE Checklist

Posted by Paul Hefley | Mar 27, 2022 | 0 Comments

If you are concerned whether your child is receiving a free appropriate public education, check out this FAPE checklist. The Law Office of Paul A. Hefley, Jr., can help if you still have concerns.

When can a school district file a request for due process hearing against a student in San Diego?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

Like parents and legal guardians, school districts can file a request for due process hearing with the California Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). When school districts file a request for due process hearing, they name the student as the Respondent. Of course, because OAH has limited jurisdiction (meaning it can only hear certain types of claims) to enforce the IDEA and corresponding state education law, school districts are only able to bring certain types of claims before OAH. The same holds true for parents. 

What is an IEP?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 08, 2021 | 0 Comments

An IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a written statement (typically, a multi-page document) that provides an individualized educational program for a student with specials needs. An IEP must adequately address a student's unique needs and must be reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefit. An IEP is the delivery tool of special education. It is through the implementation that a school district provides a free appropriate public education (its legal requirement) to the student requiring special education. Special education is instruction specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a qualifying disability. 

What is the Statute of Limitations In San Diego Special Education Cases?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 02, 2021 | 0 Comments

A statute of limitations is a law passed by a legislative body that limits the length of time following an event that a litigant may initiate legal proceedings. In California, the statute of limitations for bringing a special education dispute before the California Office of Administrative Hearings ("OAH") is two years. Ed. Code, § 56505, subd. (l); 20 US.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(C). However, there are two key exceptions to this general rule...

What is the Burden of Proof in Due Process Hearings?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Jul 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

In California, special education due process hearings apply the preponderance of evidence standard. What this means in practical terms is that the plaintiff, typically, the child's parents, must convince the Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") that it is more probable than not that the school district failed to provide their child with a free appropriate public education on the specific ground or grounds alleged (e.g., inappropriate placement) in the complaint. 

Synopsis: OAH Case No. 2021030255, Parent v. Lompoc Unified School District

Posted by Paul Hefley | Jun 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

On remand, the ALJ concluded that the student did not meet her burden of proving that she was eligible for special education and related services during the time period in question (Remand Issue 1). Because Student did not prove that Student had an IDEA-qualifying disability in Remand Issue 1, the ALJ concluded student did not require a residential placement under the IDEA to meet her educational needs. This case largely turned on the educational relevance of the independent educational evaluation (IEE) that parent had obtained prior to the original due process hearing.

Can Parents Audio Record IEP Meetings in San Diego?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Nov 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Yes. While federal special education law does not specifically address this question, in California, parents can audio record IEP meetings so long as they give the school district at least 24 hours notice in writing. California Education Code §56341.1.(g) states that "the parent or guardian or local educational agency shall have the right to record electronically the proceedings of individualized education program team meetings on an audiotape recorder."

OAH's Recent Order Could Have Far Reaching Consequences For Some Students With IEPs

Posted by Paul Hefley | Oct 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

On August 24, 2020, Administrative Law Judge Cararea Lucier issued an Order granting student's motion for stay put in Pleasanton Unified School District and Contra Costa County Office of Education, OAH Case Number 2020070970. In her motion for stay put, the student requested a stay put order regarding the essential related services in her IEP, including a full-time Licensed Vocational Nurse ("LVN") as her one-to-one aide and in-person related services in the areas of speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, physical therapy, adapted physical education, and specialized vision services.

What is a Special Education Compliance Complaint?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Oct 09, 2020 | 0 Comments

When a school district, charter school, or other local education agency (LEA) violates part or all of a special education law or procedure, parents can file a complaint with the California Department of Education (CDE). This blog discusses what a compliance complaint is and how it can benefit parents and their child.

Does A Charter School Have To Follow An IEP?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Sep 01, 2020 | 0 Comments

Yes. All public schools must provide special education services to eligible students. Charter schools are public schools and must therefore comply with state and federal education law just as public school districts are required to do, namely provide eligible students with a free appropriate publ...

What Are the Consequences for Not Following An IEP?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 17, 2020 | 1 Comment

If parents are able to show that the school district did not follow an IEP, the most common consequence is some amount of public-funded compensatory education. Compensatory education is tutoring hours that is intended to make up for the student's educational loss caused by the school district not following the IEP. However, not every failure to the follow an IEP will result in a legal claim in which compensatory education is warranted.

What Is An IEP and What Is Its Purpose?

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

The IEP is the "centerpiece of the [IDEA's] education delivery system for disabled children." Honig v. Doe (1988) 484 U.S. 305, 311. But what is an IEP and what is its purpose? An IEP is an Individualized Education Program. Only students who qualify for special education can have an IEP...

10 Tips To Improve IEP Meetings

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

IEP team meetings are an integral part of special education. Given the important role IEP team meetings play in the special education process, it is critical that the IEP team members work together competently, collaboratively, and calmly. In this blog, San Diego Special Education Attorney gives parents 10 tips to improve IEP meetings.

San Diego Unified School District Refines Its Opening Conditions

Posted by Paul Hefley | Aug 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

San Diego Unified School District's school year will begin on August 31, and will be completely online until certain conditions are met. Recently, San Diego Unified asked a team of doctors at University of California, San Diego (UCSD) for recommendations of criteria for safely resuming in-person instruction. San Diego Unified is balancing both the state standards and stricter standards put in place by San Diego County officials.

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Can special education disputes be resolved during the summer break?

Yes, they can. There's no need to wait until the 2024-2025 school year to get your child's educational program back on track. Contact IEP Law Firm PC today to schedule a free consultation.


IEP Law Firm PC is committed to answering your questions about California special education law and helping you address any issues you may be facing.

We offer a free consultation and will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.