The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, was passed into federal law in 1975. For children with disabilities, it guarantees a specially designed program to meet the student's unique needs in the least restrictive environment with access to the general curriculum. Other legal protections include the right to necessary related services, such as psychological counseling, behavior management programs, and parent training. Nevertheless, families are still often unaware of their mandated rights and available services. Unfortunately, school districts still often fail to live up to the spirit and letter of the law.
The Community Alliance for Special Education (CASE) was formed in 1979 to protect the lawful educational rights of children with disabilities by fostering the fair and just implementation of IDEA and state special education law. CASE advocacy staff, thoroughly trained in special education law, helps families and school districts work together when designing appropriate special education programs for students with disabilities, who are at risk for school failure, so they can succeed in school, get a job and become productive members of their community.
CASE provides these basic services:
- Technical assistance consultations to families and professionals on special education rights, responsibilities and services regarding specific special education students or issues;
- Direct representation at Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings, due process mediations, and administrative hearings if necessary on behalf of students with disabilities and their parents; and,
- Training on special education rights and services to parents so they to can better advocate for appropriate special education programs and services on behalf of children with disabilities.
CASE supports families by going with them to IEP meetings as a primary service. The CASE service model is based on the premise that the special education process is first and foremost an educational process. It should be collaborative, non-adversarial and student oriented. CASE methods empower parents so that they can effectively advocate for their children in the educational process. CASE services strive to prevent disagreements between parents and school districts from escalating to the need for court intervention.
The development of the CASE model of special education advocacy over the years has resulted in the attainment and maintenance of a remarkable success rate with our clients.
- 90% of the children represented receive appropriate educational services in school.
- 90% of parent clients participate more effectively in their child's educational planning.
- 95% of client/training participants learn and apply basic legal special education rights.
- 90% of clients increase negotiation and self-advocacy skills.
- 95% of clients are connected to local parent networks that assist them to address other family needs.
Generally, CASE provides over 1,500 consultations and directly represents about 150 children per year. In addition, CASE provides training to about 1,000 parents and education professionals each year. Over the last 25 years, CASE has provided over 25,000 consultations to parents and professionals, directly represented over 3,000 families and trained more than 25,000 people from all over California.
- CASE was incorporated February 2, 1979.
- CASE receives two $10,000 grants from the San Francisco Foundation and the Gerbode Foundation in 1981.
- CASE receives funding from the United Way of the Bay Area in 1987 and becomes a member in 1989.
- CASE becomes a member of the CDBG family in San Francisco in 1992.
- CASE opens a satellite office in Hayward in 1994.
- CASE becomes a member of the MOCYF family through the Open Gate Collaborative in San Francisco in 1994.
- CASE receives funding from the Social Services Commission - City of Hayward in 1997.
- Legal Aid Society of Santa Clara County opens a CASE to serve the South Bay in 1998.
- CASE opens a satellite office in Fremont as part of their Family Resource Center in 1999.
- CASE opens a satellite office in Santa Rosa in partnership with the California Parenting Institute in 2001.
- CASE moves to a new main office located with The Arc San Francisco at 1500 Howard Street in 2002.