Sometimes it's so easy to see how systems meant to help go bad. Some of it is the strange exponential brew of unrelated line items that form some really ugly whole. For instance, if SFUSD is interested in both providing the least restrictive environment for children with special needs AND wants to save money in delivering services...well, it's very easy for that to become a block to any child receiving any services.
Of course, the issue of intentions always comes in, and there's something about central district offices that seem to cause those employed there to become very leery of school site workers. Maybe it's seeing the whole picture: one can see that district wide a certain population is over-represented in low graduation rates/SDC placement/ED classrooms, so one views with suspicion the school site personnel proposing that a student from that population receive services. It might be understandable, but it's still unpleasant: you have to assume the best of the people with whom you are attempting to serve children, or the children pay.
What I really dislike, though, is the way certain "procedures" that block access to assessment and services get quoted at you over and over and over, even when you know that the procedure in question is rarely followed or in fact illegal. This is when it's very useful to carry a procedural binder and a copy of relevant case law. It may make one unpopular with certain district folk who don't really like being (gently) corrected, but if the one in question is me, you were destined to be unpopular with those people, anyway.