For the first time in more than 20 years, LAUSD is in full control of its special ed system. As parents worry about accountability, the district shifts its focus

This month marks a notable milestone for L.A. Unified: For the first time in more than two decades, it’s now in full control of its special education system.

Until this month, the nation’s second-largest school district had unique court-ordered mandates to improve and expand services for its nearly 62,000 special education students, stemming from a 1996 legal settlement. In 2003, the agreement was modified to include a third-party “independent monitor,” who meticulously reviewed and published annual reports on L.A. Unified’s compliance in 18 areas — such as whether students with disabilities receive all of the services mandated in their Individualized Education Program and how often they were subject to out-of-school suspensions.

The so-called consent decree governing special education formally ended Dec. 31, following an agreement reached in August with the lawsuit’s original plaintiffs. For district officials and some disability advocates, the decision is recognition of having met “nearly all” of the consent decree’s mandates. Officials added that there’s now flexibility to shift L.A. Unified’s focus to working on its compliance with the state’s special ed performance targets, and to continue building local-level supports that cater to “the individual needs of our students.” Click here to read more: