The Inclusive Education Project (“IEP”) is a non-profit organization that educates families on special education rights and connects California families with pro bono legal aid. IEP seeks to spread awareness of parent rights by providing parent workshops and seminars. IEP also fundraises through charity events to fund pro bono legal aid to California children and families that could not otherwise fund legal representation. IEP is here to make a difference, one child at a time.
In 1954, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that “separate is not equal,” yet sixty (60) years later the battle for equality continues, but in a new arena. Today, approximately one out of every ten students in the United States are identified as having a disability and approximately one percent (1%) of those students identified as having a disability receive an equal opportunity to a free and appropriate public education.
Children with special needs all over the United States struggle with an inherently unequal education system that continues to fail them and despite laws enacted to protect individuals with disabilities, students with disabilities and their families have to look for help beyond the school district. In some cases, school districts deny students their state and federal rights by withholding appropriate placement, services and accommodations.
Approximately ninety (90%) of families’ with special needs children are unaware of their right to a free and appropriate public education. Furthermore, the majority of families who do try to advocate on behalf of their child with special needs get lost in the highly complicated and biased legal system.
This legal system started out with the intention of being a “parent-friendly” process where families would be able to advocate on behalf of their child without the need for an attorney. It has developed into a convoluted bureaucracy of state agencies acting with limited accountability and without adequate enforcement of state and federal legal obligations.
Parents now require attorney assistance to navigate through intricate and lengthy assessment processes, Individualized Education Plan (“IEP”) meetings, California Department of Education complaints, Office of Administrative Hearing requests and hearings and federal court appeals just so their child can access a free and appropriate public education.