National Bullying Prevention Month
October Issue Spotlight
Lucia unlocks her phone for her son Ian while they are interviewed for Cal-State Los Angeles' Community Impact Media Project
Ian loves playing with legos. "He likes to build spaceships," his mom, Lucia, tells us, "anything that flies." She says that his favorite thing to build recently has been a homemade fidget spinner. "He figured out a way to do it, I don't know how, but it's really cool." Lucia is proud of Ian’s progress at home and in school – it’s been a long journey since he was first diagnosed with Autism - and it’s far from over.

When Ian was three years old, Lucia brought Ian to their local Regional Center for an assessment after employees at Ian’s daycare brought up concerns about his development. The Regional Center assessment diagnosed Ian with Autism. “I had no idea what to do, or where to go,” Lucia says. The first place for Ian to go was his local elementary school. With an Autism diagnosis from the Regional Center, Lucia figured that Ian would get services from his school. It wasn’t that easy. “(The school) kept wanting to remove his Autism eligibility. They tried to put him in a regular classroom, then went back and forth. At some point it’s like – does he have autism or not?” He does – and the school finally acknowledged that fact – but he still wasn’t learning.

“The training and support of TIGER (Learning Rights' Training Individuals for Grassroots Education Reform Program) helped,” Lucia says of her first encounter with the school district, “I discovered I’m a ‘jollita’ (or 'little gem') finding necessary information and resources.” With the skills she learned in TIGER classes, Lucia advocated for Ian to be moved to a different school within the district that could support his needs better. The district agreed, and he started attending a Special Day Class specifically for students with Autism. Lucia saw a difference immediately. "He learned words and colors and shapes, he became more social and more active." Now she has a special communication plan that keeps her up to date on Ian's progress and allows her to help him at home in ways that are beneficial to his work at school. “But,” she says, "we're not done yet".
Ian and his family at A Cause for Celebration.
As the new school year started this fall, Ian told Lucia that he was being bullied on the bus. Older students had been teasing and calling him names for weeks. Despite Ian bringing up his concerns to the bus driver, and Lucia bringing her concerns to the school principal, nothing has been done yet. This school year, Ian’s progress has regressed. “His behavior has been a problem this year… and he’s behind in reading.” Lucia believes some of this is related to his having a substitute teacher for a significant portion of the year, but the bullying certainly hasn’t helped. "We're in the process of figuring it out with the school. I can feel that it is going to be tough. I'm glad Learning Rights will be there along side me."

In a 2010 study, researchers found that children with Autism Spectrum Disorder were three times more likely to be bullied than their peers. Bullying has been found to cause depression and anxiety, negative health effects, and decreased academic achievement. In order to help prevent bullying -particularly for students with disabilities - Learning Rights has partnered with Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom LLP to form The Sexual and Cyber Crimes Project. The Project’s main goal is to prevent cyberbullying in California, by training students in public schools how to recognize and respond to it.
Thank you to all of our A Cause for Celebration sponsors!

With their help, the event raised over $120,000 for Learning Rights.
Aaron Bicart
Development Associate

As Development Associate, Aaron works with foundations and government entities to secure funding for Learning Rights' programs. He also helps with online communications and - most importantly - writes the newsletters :)

"Working at Learning Rights has opened my eyes to the powerful good that can be done through legal aid. I'm proud to help support that work."

Are schools legally obligated to prevent bullying?


In California there is no one law that prohibits bullying, but all school districts should have anti-bullying policies in place. The California Education Code states that "all pupils enrolled in the state public schools have the inalienable right to attend classes on school campuses that are safe, secure, and peaceful."
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Learning Rights Law Center seeks to achieve education equity for low-income and disadvantaged students in the public education system in Southern California. We change the lives of at-risk students who have disabilities, face discrimination or are involved in the foster care or juvenile justice systems by providing free legal services, education advocacy, and community training.