Breaking News:  Judge denies Berkeley Unified School District’s motion to dismiss dyslexia case!

Breaking News:  Judge denies Berkeley Unified School District’s motion to dismiss dyslexia case!

October 12, 2017 – BUSD (“Defendants”) had previously filed a motion, in part, to have this federal dyslexia case (Student A, et al v. Berkeley Unified School District – Case No. 17-cv-02510-JST) dismissed arguing that the individual families involved had failed to “exhaust their administrative remedies before bringing suit” (i.e. each individual family going through due process hearings first).  Plaintiffs successfully argued that they should “be excused from exhausting their administrative remedies because it was futile and inadequate to do so”.  Judge ruled, in part, in favor of the Plaintiffs.

Many of you have been closely following the complaint filed in federal court on May 2, 2017 against Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD), the BUSD Superintendent, the BUSD Board of Education, and the Directors of the BUSD Board of Education, for systemically failing to educate students with reading disorders, and students who are suspected to have reading disorders.

It should be noted that complaints regarding the systemic and unlawful practices and policies at BUSD had been previously filed with the CA Department of Education and that BUSD did not sufficiently change its policies in response to these complaints.

Plaintiffs successfully argued that the issue regarding BUSD failing to educate students with dyslexia was a systemic one and not limited to the students involved in this federal lawsuit and that they are seeking relief on behalf of all similarly situated students at BUSD.

The judge did grant the Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss claims against individual BUSD board members. This dismissal has no real impact on the case.

Thanks to all DDCA volunteers who attended the Motion to Dismiss hearing on August 24, 2017!

Click here to read the original complaint filed on May 2, 2017.

Click here to read the May 2, 2017 press release issued by Plaintiff’s co-counsel: Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), Jacobson Education Law, Inc. & Goodwin.

Click here to read the “Order Granting in Part and Denying in Part Motion to Dismiss” filed on October 12, 2017.



You Asked! Question 14

Download a PDF version of this You Asked question and answer HERE.

Q14:  My student was assessed and did not show signs of a phonological processing deficit but my student still struggles greatly with reading and spelling.  Do all dyslexic children display phonological processing deficits?

A:  A dyslexic student may not display phonological processing deficits in an assessment for a variety of reasons.  A few reasons why a dyslexic student may not show a phonological processing deficit are:

  • When assessing, a single indicator won’t be present in all students just because of measurement error.  This is more likely to occur when only a single phonological measure is assessed.
  • Dyslexic students with a higher vocabulary may score better on measures of phonological awareness.  It is easier to do a phonological awareness task when you are manipulating the sounds of a word that you already know. In a standardized assessment, a student’s performance can only be compared to the normative sample.  If the student knows more words than the average person in the normative sample, it gives them a helping hand on phonological awareness tasks even if phonological awareness is somewhat weak.
  • When a student has had previous intervention, he/she will have had a lot more practice on phonological awareness tasks than the comparative normative sample.

(Source: Richard Wagner, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, NICHD Florida Learning Disabilities Research Center / Associate Director, Florida Center for Reading Research)

It should be noted that no single score (or product of scores) test or procedure should be used as the sole criterion for the IEP teams decision as to the student’s eligibility for special education (Source: Special Education Rights & Responsibilities by Community Alliance for Special Education and Disability Rights of California, page 3-14, 34 C.F.R. Section 300.306, 5 CCR Section 3030(j)(4)).

Also remember that even if a student is not dyslexic, there are other categories of disability under IDEA such as Other Health Impaired or perhaps the student qualifies under specific learning disability due to an impairment such as a math disorder (dyscalculia) or a writing disorder (dysgraphia) that may create special education eligibility.  This is why comprehensive assessment in all areas of concern is so important.

For more YOU ASKED questions and answers click HERE