The Battle to Improve Special Education

It’s been 40 years since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act went into effect, and school districts across the country are still working to ensure that students with physical or cognitive impairments have access to educational opportunities that address their needs. In some places, lawsuits have forced districts to do more. In Part I of this report on special education in Los Angeles, we saw the impact of a 20-year class-action lawsuit, which has led to significant improvements for students with disabilities in the nation’s second largest school district. In the past 3 years the district has focused more intently on inclusion, moving many students out of dedicated special education centers and into their regular neighborhood schools.

While many see this as a sign of progress, others see cause for concern. In Part II, we take a closer look. Linda Hilton’s son Brandon has attended one of these centers all his life because, she says, no other school in the district could meet his profound physical and medical needs.

Parents who support having their children in regular schools say they are not receiving the services they require. Is LAUSD moving too fast? What’s needed for large districts to educate students with the greatest needs?

Correspondent John Tulenko speaks with teachers, service providers, parents, students, and LAUSD’s director of special education to get the story.


Check Local Listings
And check out Part I of The Battle to Improve Education, and our recent stories about parents’ efforts to advocate for better services for their children with special needs. There are additional resources and coverage on the topic on our website, and the On Special Education blog.

Skip to content