Vanaman German LLP, Disability Rights California, and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Obtain Preliminary Injunction to Provide Full Distance Learning Programs for Students with Disabilities
Vanaman German LLP, Disability Rights California, and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund Obtain Preliminary Injunction Forcing State Officials to Provide Immediate Access to Full Distance Learning Programs for Students with Disabilities Throughout California
On February 28, 2022, federal Judge Susan Illston, of the Northern District of California, issued an order called a “preliminary injunction” requiring the State of California to make sure that children with disabilities have access to virtual education.
The order is part of a case is called EE v. California, that was brought on behalf of disabled students who are at a higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. The case was necessary because some California school districts have denied parent requests to enroll disabled students in independent study, or to allow virtual attendance, even when it was not safe for the student to attend school in person.
The court decided that the State of California is likely discriminating against these students on the basis of disability by not making sure that districts provide a program of virtual instruction equivalent to what non-disabled children receive. The court said that disabled students have a right to access education even if they cannot safely attend school in person.
Under the court order, if a parent decides that their disabled child’s health would be put at risk by in-person instruction, the parent has the right to have their child enrolled in their district’s independent study program with access to IEP services, or receive a reasonable modification in the form of virtual access to their typical instruction and special education services. Parents have this right even if they signed a settlement waiving rights this school year.
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