Perez vs. Sturgis Decision Changes How School Districts look at IEPs

Perez vs. Sturgis Decision Changes How School Districts look at IEPs

IEP Compliance7/28/2023

After the unanimous decision on Perez vs. Sturgis in late March, it has become easier for the families of students with disabilities to demand compensation from schools.

If the parents believe the school isn’t complying with the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) in terms of IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), they can directly sue the school for damages.

Why did the Perez Family Seek Compensation?

In the landmark case, the Perez family was informed by the public school that their son, Miguel, who has a hearing disability, was an honor roll student.

Miguel brought home As and Bs regularly.

However, right before graduation, the family learned that Miguel would not be receiving a high school diploma because he reads at a third-grade level.

This was due to the fact that the special education aide provided by the school district did not know sign language.

The Perez family had been misinformed about their son's progress for a decade. Miguel did not receive the help and education that was outlined in his IEP.

The huge gap in communication that cost Miguel his education drove the Perez family to claim damages against the public school districts.

The Perez vs. Sturgis: Implications for Public School Districts

The ruling has several implications for school districts.

The Perez vs. Sturgis case has made it easier for parents of students with disabilities to sue school districts for damages instead of merely voicing their concern to the special ed teachers or the school principal.

The 9-0 ruling has set a precedent that will allow more parents to claim damages under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) in addition to ongoing IDEA dispute resolution activities.

The Supreme Court ruled that parents do not have to go through the IDEA dispute resolution process before filing an ADA lawsuit. Thus, filing ADA lawsuits and claiming damages from school districts is now easier.

It is more important than ever to maintain proper IEP progress reports.

NOTE: In the Perez vs. Sturgis case, the school district did present IEP reports but they were far from accurate.

Simply keeping records isn’t enough. Now, school districts must ensure that the IEP reports are accurate and timely.

Why is District IEP Software Not Enough?

Although you may be using your school district's IEP software, the Perez vs. Sturgis case has shown that it is not enough to ensure compliance.

Lack of Options for Daily Goal Monitoring

  • Most district IEP data collection programs support reporting but they do not support daily progress monitoring.
  • Such tools are not capable of customizing IEP goal tracking and generating performance reports for IEP meetings with parents.

Report Generation is Labor-intensive

  • Teachers are forced to take notes on their own and record the progress of each student as per their tailored IEPs.
  • In absence of IEP reporting capabilities, updating data and preparing custom reports can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and it can lead to errors.

Over time, it just ends in mountains of paperwork that get shoved in some filing cabinet at the end of each month.

District IEP Software is NOT User-friendly

Most district IEP software have complex interfaces. Special education professionals often find it difficult to use the software effectively. As a result, many teachers do not use the software at all, or they only use it to generate basic reports.

Sadly, 1 out of 4 teachers do not record IEP progress as per a study conducted on US school districts. Out of the 75% who do, they only record their student’s progress once every week.

More than 80% of these teachers use binders, notebooks and loose papers to record the IEP progress, which may not qualify as evidence in court.

Besides, updating the reports long after classes will leave a lot of room for error. And that is something you cannot afford right now.

Why Are Schools Switching to More Advanced IEP Software?

1. To Keep legally sound records

Perez vs. Sturgis showed us the repercussions of not keeping proper IEP records. All schools need to keep a close eye on their students’ IEP progress. Your school must adhere to the IDEA requirements and to do that you need something more advanced than pen and paper.

You need an IEP goal tracking tool that can monitor student performances and generate reports that stand in a court of law.

The Perez vs. Sturgis case showed us the repercussions of not keeping proper IEP records. Schools need to keep a close eye on their students' IEP progress to ensure compliance with IDEA. This requires a more advanced solution than just pen and paper.

IEP goal tracking software can monitor student performance and generate reports that can stand up in court. This helps schools protect themselves from legal action.

2. Improve Student Performances

IEPs are tailored to each student's individual needs so they can learn and develop the necessary skills to find employment under the ADA as adults.

Advanced IEP progress monitoring software can help teachers track individual student performance, schedule meetings with parents, and present printed reports during the meetings.

This allows teachers to discuss whether the student requires any adjustments to their IEP for further improvement in performance.

AbleSpace, for instance, allows special education professionals to track student performances and maintain IDEA-compliant records without putting in additional time or effort.

3. Ensures accountability of school districts

User-friendly and educator-centric software programs and applications such as AbleSpace enable school districts to comply with the IDEA requirements at all times.

The Perez vs. Sturgis has made it amply clear that schools must take accountability for their responsibilities as per IDEA. If a school fails to do so, parents and advocates of the child can take legal action and directly claim damages.

Why Switch to a Modern IEP Goal Tracking App

The recent ruling in favor of Perez has shown that district IEP software is not enough to ensure compliance with IDEA.

This leaves special educators with two options:

  • Continue using district IEP software and risk being sued by parents
  • Switch to a more advanced IEP data collection software that can help them track student progress and ensure compliance with IDEA.

The first option is not a good one. The Perez vs. Sturgis case has shown that parents are willing to sue school districts that do not provide their children with the services they need. School districts do not want to be on the wrong side of a lawsuit.

The second option is the best option. Switching to a more advanced IEP data collection app like AbleSpace can help you track student progress, ensure compliance with IDEA, and avoid being sued by parents.

You can sign up for a free trial right away.

Adopting a cutting-edge IEP goal-tracking software is the only way to remain compliant with IDEA and avoid being sued by parents.

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