Family Court - 9th grader w/IEP Discrimination


I’m a divorced, single mother and I’m struggling with overt discrimination within Alameda County family court. My son is a 9th grader with an IEP and the court recently ruled that my ex can place him in one of two private Catholic schools. The problem is that my ex lied to the court about enrollment/acceptance status. Plus the court ignored the details of my son’s IEP which provided for an aide and other support when they ruled in favor of my ex. Now today is the first day of school for BHS and my son is being withheld from starting school since he is with his dad this week. Meanwhile my ex has not confirmed any enrollment in either private schools and one of the private schools started on Monday, 8/14. It is not in my son’s best interest to miss the first days of school because my ex is “hoping” to get my son into one of the private schools that he lied about in court. 

I’ve sent many emails to the minor’s counsel on the case and she has ignored them. My understanding is that she should be representing my son’s best interest which is for him to start high school on time. 

I’m hoping someone on this forum could offer some advice on this unbelievable situation.



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Hi Natasha, I'm not seeing the issue related to discrimination in your letter. I'm sorry you're going thru this stress, but the 2 private catholic HS your ex is probably hoping for are St Mary's and Bishop O'Dowd, both of which are great schools at least on a par with BHS, if not better and way less chaotic than BHS (and they're not hugely religious btw). I well understand the IEP concern, but I am letting you know that I have close friends with kids in both of these schools with IEPs, who are thriving. St Mary's in particular is excellent for kids with learning challenges. That school had orientations but has not actually started. I don't understand the situation re enrollment, but rather than hoping for an outcome that sounds like it's not going to happen - enrolling at BHS, which the judge ruled against - why not call St Mary's and BOD and see what you can do to help your child be admitted and enrolled and start school soon? I'm sure the enrollment is in the works. The person to focus on is your youngster. Let him get excited about his cool new HS, whichever one it is, and just support him in this new and slightly scary adventure. If the minor's counsel is ignoring you - then she is probably well aware of the situation and believes that it is fully in your child's best interest not to start at one school and then switch to another. 

This sounds frustrating, but keep in mind that a week or two delay in starting HS is probably not the end of the world. It sounds like you need your own legal support. I recommend reaching out to the Bar Association's lawyers referral service: -- if that isn't the right fit for you right now,

KALW's your legal rights takes calls and might be able to point you in the right direction, or Berkeley Public Library's "Lawyers in the Library" program also takes questions: -- both of those programs ought to be able to help you understand your rights and options.

How frustrating and heart breaking- I know how hard it is to get an IEP.  Private schools do not have the resources to administer recommendations in an IEP.  It would depend on what services your child was getting and what the private school says they can offer.  Most private schools do not offer services- the public school is bound by law to administer these services.  Make sure these private schools have a copy of the IEP- not sure if your ex has been transparent about your sons needs to them.  Often private schools will say they can manage a high functioning kid but will miss something big because they have a marketing person as assistant principle not knowing about special needs or anything about education- only suited for enrollment really… anyways… if your kid only needs extra attention maybe private would work?  But even then- there are social ramifications with other families- a status thing if your kid is different.  Or if your kid lashes out when challenged- not sure what his needs are.  Public schools are forgiving of differences and bound by law to deliver.  If by chance you do try private fur a semester or two and it doesn’t work out- you should be able to pick up IEP when you return to public.  

Btw- Im wondering what your local district has to say about this?  Your son is truant and your husband being a person on the IEP team should have sense to know this is a legal matter he is not following the recommendations by the IEP team and making executive decisions without the other oatebt.  You have shared custody I’m assuming so he has to get your consent to switch things around.  

I would approach the new school’s special ed about what is going on- so you go on record for trying.  And of course contact your sons district- report your ex husband in a non accusatory way but say you are stuck- that you feel a bit lost without the IEP teams advice about high school.    

By the way, in Novato there is a place called Matrix Network- a non- profit place with info for parents about IEP’s special Ed law.  They have volunteers to talk to that are experienced and workshops etc…