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California special education spat centers on federal court's order

A California federal judge likely never expected this.

A group of parents filed a lawsuit back in 2011 against the California Department of Education, alleging that the needs of their children enrolled in special education programs were not being sufficiently met.

Reportedly, about one in every 10 students in the state has some form of disability that entitles him or her to fully access all special education opportunities mandated under state and federal law. The plaintiffs' suit contended that the rights of their children were being unlawfully violated.

In response to that complaint, the judge ordered the California DOE to turn over what a recent media article on the lawsuit and its claim of discrimination against disabled students calls "a broad swath of student records" pertaining to more than 10 million individuals.

Although some of the information sought is quite personal, the judicial order contained explicit instructions for safeguarding it.

Notwithstanding such controls, many educational officials -- including principals from government, school districts and even teachers -- have reportedly made strong efforts encouraging parents to object to the order.

Plaintiffs' attorneys say that their attempts are in bad faith, essentially being a fright-based campaign sought to alarm parents over the possibility that sensitive data regarding their children could fall into the wrong hands. One parent has filed a court declaration asserting that her child's school district sent out recorded information urging every parent to object to the judge's order.

Unsurprisingly, the judge has taken due note of the fracas. She recently scheduled a meeting that will reportedly focus upon the attempts of DOE officials and other parties urging parents to challenge the order.

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