Escondido, CA

School district ordered to spend more on special ed

As a result of a complaint filed by a special education teacher two years ago, the Escondido Union School District was ordered by a superior court judge to spend more on special education staffing. It is now obeying that order. 

The judge was upholding a decision by the California Department of Education, which ordered the district to add special ed teachers at all of its elementary school campuses.

The teacher who filed the initial complaint with the department, Alison Owen, was teaching special ed at the North Broadway Elementary School. She had a classroom with 45 students. State law caps the number of students per special ed classroom at 28.

In her complaint Owen wrote, “At this time, I am unable to adequately perform my job duties.” When the department ordered the additional hires, the district challenged the decision in court. It claimed in the district’s response to the order that  “The district asserts that it has not violated California law with respect to Ms. Owen, who was hired as, and, at all times, has been employed by the district as a specialized academic instruction teacher-mild/moderate and not a resource specialist,” and asserted that the “caseload requirements for resource specialists are inapplicable in her case.”

In April a superior court judge dismissed the district’s request to reverse the order. The district says it doesn’t plan to appeal. Instead it will add a teacher and instruction aide at each elementary school.

Owen is not around to see the results of her complaint. She left in 2017 and now teaches at the Oceanside Unified School District, where class sizes are no larger than 22 students.

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