As Strike Looms, LAUSD Special Education Practices Come Into Focus

Carl J. Petersen
4 min readDec 20, 2018

When we say $1.4 billion for special ed and we only have $700 million from the federal government and the other $700 million are coming from every child in this district, I’m not about defunding special ed. I just know that we have a serious issue to [sic] how can we serve our own kids?

- LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is not always a welcoming place to a person who needs accommodations. According to a report released on October 25, 2017, a child with a physical disability would be unable to enter through the main entrance of one-fifth of the schools within the District. Once inside, they could not access all areas above the first floor in a quarter of all facilities. “Fewer than one-third of schools have accessible restrooms on campus.

Even worse is a persistent view within LAUSD leadership that programs needed to help children with special education reach their full potential are a drain on District finances. Board President Monica Garcia complained at one Board meeting that these programs take money from “our own kids, somehow forgetting that she represents students with all types of intellectual abilities, not just those who can graduate and continue on to college. Superintendent Austin Beutner’s self-appointed task force looked to save costs by using “tiered interventions early to keep kids with special needs in general education”, reinforcing a culture that emphasizes keeping services away from the students until lawyers intervene.

Two of my daughters marching in support of their teachers on December 15

All this concern about cost comes with a price. The District pays for the legal fees every time a parent wins a case and gets the services that their child is entitled to receive. Both children with special education needs and their typical peers are harmed when children…

Carl J. Petersen

Parent, special education advocate and former LAUSD School Board candidate. Still fighting for the children.