Survey: 76% of LAUSD parents say their kids with special needs can't learn effectively with distance learning

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- More than two-thirds of Los Angeles Unified School District parents say their children with special needs cannot learn and progress effectively through distance learning, according to a new survey.

The survey was conducted over the last month by Speak UP, an organization that helps parents navigate special education. The goal of the survey was to learn how students with special needs have been impacted by distance learning amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, 74% of those parents surveyed reported regressive behavior in their children.

"He actually started, you know, hurting himself... like self-injurious behaviors that he hadn't done in three years," said Carla Suarez-Capdet.

Speak UP says that by not providing services required by IEP's, or individualized education programs, LAUSD is not complying with federal law. For example, providing behavior specialists.

"Even private agencies that are contracted by LAUSD who are saying, 'I have aides who are ready and willing to go into the home and we have the insurance for it, and the parent wants it,' LAUSD is still telling them that they cannot," said Lisa Mosko, director of advocacy for special education at Speak UP.

Speak UP made a series of recommendations, including better communication and access to assessments.

"The district has opened up assessments now. They've said that that's happening but every parent I've spoken to doesn't know about it yet," Mosko said.

LAUSD recently reached an agreement with teachers for voluntary in-person instruction after school.

"It's unclear how many people are volunteering, and it does not appear to include special education services, at least not that we've heard from anyone that we surveyed," said Jenny Hontz of Speak UP.

Eyewitness News reached out to the district for an interview on what programs are implemented and how. We received the following statement from an LAUSD spokesperson:

"Our teachers and staff have made heroic efforts to ensure students with disabilities and their families are connected to their school community and receive support during the pandemic. There is no question that being in the classroom is the best option for all students, but especially for those with special needs. We are developing plans on how students - including those with special needs - can return to the classroom in the safest way possible."

Speak UP said there are some improvements but a lack of consistency.
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