Tuesday, June 11, 2013
With No Clear Accountability, California's Special Education Services End for Incarcerated Students in Adult Jails
The Center for Investigative Reporting discusses why special education services end when students are transferred to adult custody in In California, Incarcerated Students Fall Through Gaps in Special Education Laws. Special education students are entitled to services until they are 22, which typically are provided by the local school district when a student is held in a juvenile facility. But the law is unclear about which government entity is responsible for special education for students who are transferred from juvenile to adult detention.The Los Angeles Unified School District is required to provide services to students whose parents lived in the district when the student turned 18. But L.A. Unified rarely sends its teachers to adult jails--arguing that because the law does not require the district to educate incarcerated students whose parents reside outside its district, it is the state's responsibility to educate them.
Attorneys representing one of those former special education students who was transferred to the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail when he turned 18, estimate that L.A.'s jails have between 400 and 700 young adults eligible for special education, but L.A. Unified currently provides such services to only one eligible inmate. The attorneys' client, Michael Garcia, was first detained in a juvenile facility for a shooting, but lost his special education services and was unable to graduate from high school after being transferred to the L.A. county jail. Garcia sued L.A. Unified and the state for the lapse in services. Garcia is now past the age of 22 and incarcerated in state prison, but says that he is pursuing his suit to help others in his situation. The case is before the California Supreme Court to decide whether the state education department or local school districts are responsible for special education services for incarcerated students. Read more here.