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Special education in the La Cañada Unified School District

Woman educating the children

Children with special needs deserve a good education to enable them to integrate fully with the larger society. Thankfully, there are outstanding schools in La Cañada that address this crucial need. 

Making the law work for special students

The city’s lone school district, the La Cañada Unified School District (LCUSD), takes on the challenge of providing quality education to children with special needs. In line with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, LCUSD has created a Special Education Department that targets students eligible to take advantage of an education tailor-fit for them. 

Under the said law, qualified students will be given free public education. But to be deemed eligible for this benefit, the child must have “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.”

Section 504 also places much emphasis on the thrust to “meet the (special) student’s individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.” This is the essence behind the establishment of free appropriate public education (FAPE) for them.

LCUSD assures that whether living with a disability or not, all students under their wing can get the best systematized learning possible. Their Special Education Department is fully capable of catering to the individualized needs of students with disabilities and empowering them to become the best versions of themselves. 

LCUSD Special Education Department

Students with disabilities can qualify for LCUSD’s Section 504 Service Plan that allows them to benefit from the district’s specialized services. Assessment is made by their Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. 

Qualified students will be placed under the jurisdiction of La Cañada High School’s Special Education Department. Each of them will be assigned a staff member who becomes the student’s case carrier – the focal person for their academic support system.

The support system, called the Individual Educational Plan (IEP), becomes tailor-made, depending on the overall needs of the student and their capacity to learn. Helping in its development is a core team made up of the student, their case carrier, their parents, classroom teachers, and a support staff of professionals from psychologists to occupational therapists. 

Entering the program

All courses under the special needs student’s IEP must first be certified to be correct by the student’s case carrier. Only then can the student be registered in the school’s program. 

Once registered, the student will be placed in one of two classes:

  • Directed Studies. Students here are given a longer time allotment to fulfill assignments for general education classes. The teacher may sometimes sit with the student to help out with their learning.
  • Modified Academic Classes. The regular general education classes are slightly modified to accommodate the student with individualized learning needs.

Parents’ rights

The beauty of LCUSD’s program for special needs students is that it acknowledges both the child’s and their respective parents’ rights, not just to free education but also to the records of the child’s academic progress. This is clearly underscored in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the California Education Code. The custodian of such records is the sitting principal of La Cañada High School.

LCUSD is among the main reasons why homes for sale in La Cañada are preferred by families who desire top-notch education for their children. If you’re among those wanting to buy your own parcel of La Cañada real estate, I can help you out! I’m local Realtor Kathy Seuylemezian, and you can get in touch with me at 818.949.5205 or via email at Kathy(at)imuragent(dotted)com.