How have students with disabilities been faring in Distance Learning @SCUSD?

A photo taken at dusk, Serna Center building, front side, with a red sky peeking through clouds, and a rainbow trying to get through.
Image: “Serna Center Rainbow”

Students with disabilities in Sac City USD (SCUSD) have been struggling in distance learning. Not having a distance learning agreement for nearly one year – including no agreement for the delivery of special education evaluations – has resulted in a lack of clarity and consistency and GLARING  inequities.

But this is not a surprise, as this District has been discriminating against students with disabilities for over 25 years (Read more).

The district is now backlogged with over 800 initial and triennial evaluations. This resulted in CDE stepping in to demand that SCUSD and SCTA reach an agreement by February 1, 2021, or proceed with hiring outside contractors to begin conducting the evaluations and finish by July 30, 20201 (See SCUSD’s letter to David Fischer, SCTA’s President dated January 27, 2021 for more information). The District chose to ignore the CDE directive and continued to negotiate with SCTA past the deadline and did not proceed with hiring the outside contractors to do the work, further delaying students’ ability to be assessed for special education services. Even though there were qualified contractors willing to serve or evaluate students with disabilities all this time, SCUSD still withheld these services because the SCTA teachers and staff who might ordinarily provide the services did not have an agreement.

Finally on February 27, 2021 an agreement on special education evaluations was reached between SCTA and SCUSD. Detailed plans have yet to be shared, including how they will remedy issues with student regression in social, academic and functional skills.

As shared at the February 18, 2021 SCUSD Board of Education meeting in public comments, in Fall 2020, The Coalition for Students with Disabilities heard from 34 SCUSD parents or guardians of students with IEPs and 504 plans about their distance learning experiences. (Read more about our Community Survey) The students represent various school types (including regular public, dependent charter, independent charter, and nonpublic), classroom settings (including general education, inclusive/combo classes, and SDCs), student ethnicities, and  grade levels (from 14 school sites, including elementary, middle and high schools). While some parents reported their children are doing well, the majority say their children with disabilities are suffering and falling through the cracks while trying to learn remotely. Parental input reveals inequities for students with disabilities on many levels:

  1. IEP & 504 Services, Supports, and Accommodations
  • Students not receiving their special ed. services (70.6%)
  • Special ed. service delivery not well suited to child’s needs (91%)
  • (8.8%) denied an assessment for a disability or for an updated IEP 
  1. 1:1 Aides, Paraprofessionals, or Nurses
  • Lack of adequate support from 1:1 aides and/or nurses (70.6%)
  • 1:1 aides or nurses not allowed to assist child 1:1 in the home (91.2%)
  1. Individualized Transition Plans (ITPs)
  • Transition plans for children 16+yrs are due but have not been developed (57.1%)
  • Existing transition plans not implemented appropriately (42.9%)
  1. Social & Emotional Health
  • Ed.-related mental health services (EHRMS) not implemented appropriately (70%)
  • Children developing new mental health issues but not receiving any support (80%)
  • Children regressing in learning and behavior (50%)
  1. Online Learning Access
  • Parents had to opt out of SCUSD due to the inconsistency of class schedules
  • All children did not receive a device from their school (35%)
  • Several children in one home having to share one device 
  • Slow internet speeds/difficult for students to follow along
  • Inequitable access to recorded video lessons (wide variance infrequency and length of lessons for each student)
  1. Communication
  • Insufficient communications from IEP team addressing child’s services (38.2%)
  • No communication from teacher (5.9%)
  • No communication from SCUSD about additional school resources that support their children with a disability (76%)

Student rights CANNOT be bargained! Doing so is illegal and immoral. However, this has been happening for decades. The District has continued to negotiate away student rights to SCTA! Political strife IS NOT a permissible reason to deny a student with disabilities the services that they are entitled to. The District MUST follow the law and remedy these issues! The District IS accountable for protecting students! Parent and student voices MATTER! Accountability NOW!

Image: Coalition for Students with Disabilities Logo: Red Background, Box tilted on side, with White letters in bold: AccountAbility Now! Equity, Access & Social Justice for Students. Under the box, in bold Red letters: Wear Red. That is the Coalition's color. Under this, in black bold letters are the words: Coalition for Students with Disabilities.