Justia U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law

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The government filed suit to collect unpaid federally reinsured student loans from defendant. The Higher Education Technical Amendments of 1991 (HETA) eliminated all statutes of limitations on actions to recover on defaulted federally guaranteed student loans. The court concluded that HETA did not violate defendant's due process rights because HETA’s elimination of the limitations period for actions to collect on federally guaranteed student loans does not result in a denial of due process. In this case, the government established a prima facie case through certificates of indebtedness, which were signed under the penalty of perjury, showing that defendant executed promissory notes to secure loans, defaulted on the loans, and owed the United States certain amounts after offsets from various sources. Defendant failed to present sufficient evidentiary facts to raise a genuine issue of material fact or a question as to liability for the alleged indebtedness. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of the government. View "United States v. Falcon" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs filed suit claiming that the school district had violated T.B.’s civil rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12131, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the school district. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment regarding plaintiffs' allegations that the school district violated the ADA and Section 504 by failing to offer and implement a gastronomy tube (g-tube) feeding regime that would enable T.B. to attend school safely; California law establishes federally enforceable rights governing g-tube feeding in schools; the court held that where the State has defined an accommodation by law, that accommodation is enforceable in court; but, plaintiffs failed to prove that the district court was deliberately indifferent to the need to meet state standards for feeding T.B. at school. The court reversed the grant of summary judgment on the claim regarding the 2007-2008 Individualized Education Plan (IEP), because there is a genuine dispute of material fact as to whether the district violated T.B.’s civil rights by failing to accommodate his need for g-tube feedings. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court that a reasonable jury would not be able to find that the district retaliated against plaintiffs. The court vacated the district court's award of attorneys' fees and costs and remanded. View "T.B. V. San Diego Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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The school board of Tucson developed the Mexican American Studies (MAS) program in Tucson public schools to provide a culturally relevant curriculum for students by incorporating historical and contemporary Mexican American contributions into coursework and classroom studies. Arizona state superintendents of education successfully sponsored and implemented legislation that did away with the program (A.R.S. 15-111 and 15-112). The statute prohibits a school district or charter school from including in its program of instruction any courses or classes that: (1) “Promote the overthrow of the United States government,” (2) “Promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” (3) “Are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or (4) “Advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” Plaintiffs filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes. The court affirmed the district court’s rulings that A.R.S 15-112(A)(3) is unconstitutional in violation of the First Amendment but severable from the rest of the statute; that A.R.S. 15-112(A)(2) and (A)(4) are not overbroad in violation of the First Amendment; and that A.R.S. 15-112(A)(2) and (A)(4) are not vague in violation of the Due Process Clause. The court reversed the district court’s grant of summary judgment for defendants on plaintiffs’ equal protection claim where there are genuine issues of fact regarding whether the enactment and/or enforcement of A.R.S. 15-112 was motivated at least in part by a discriminatory intent. The court remanded that claim for trial. Finally, the court remanded plaintiffs’ First Amendment viewpoint discrimination claim to the district court for further proceedings. View "Arce v. Douglas" on Justia Law

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MSD appealed the district court's determination that Mathew, who has Asperger's Syndrome, was entitled to the preparation of an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400; an award of attorneys' fees to Mathew's parents; and an injunction against Mathew's graduation from high school. The court found no error in the district court’s affirmance of the hearing officer’s determination that Matthew was entitled to an IEE at public expense; the parents’ request for attorneys’ fees is more analogous to an independent claim than an ancillary proceeding and thus was timely filed; by procuring an IEE at public expense, the parents were “prevailing parties;" because the plain language of the IDEA limits awards of attorneys’ fees pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I) to instances in which the child has been determined to need special education services, and Matthew had not been found to need such services, the parents are not eligible for an award of attorneys’ fees under the IDEA; and the "stay-put" injunction preventing Matthew’s graduation from high school must be lifted. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part. View "Meridian Joint Sch. Dist. v. D.A." on Justia Law
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The Flores Plaintiffs appealed the district court's order granting the State Defendants Rule 60(b)(5) relief from a judgment for alleged violations of the Equal Educational Opportunities Act (EEOA), 20 U.S.C. 1701–21. The district court also vacated its earlier injunction granting the Flores Plaintiffs statewide relief. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting the State Defendants’ Rule 60(b)(5) motion for relief from judgment because the circumstances surrounding the implementation and funding of English Language Learners (ELLs) programs at the state and national levels have changed substantially since 2000, and the current programs constitute “appropriate action” under the EEOA; the Flores Plaintiffs have not shown that Arizona is violating the EEOA on a statewide basis, and that the facts alleged by them are insufficient to justify the maintenance of a statewide injunction; and therefore, the court affirmed the district court's judgment. View "Flores v. Huppenthal" on Justia Law
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Plaintiffs, parents of a disabled student, filed suit under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., seeking reimbursement by the DOE for the costs of attending a private program. The hearing officer denied the request for reimbursement, concluding that it was untimely under Haw. Rev. Stat. 302A-443(a). The district court held, however, that the student's placement by the parents was “bilateral,” not “unilateral,” so that the parents’ request was not untimely, and concluded that the parents were entitled to reimbursement. The court agreed and concluded that the student's family is entitled to reimbursement for the 2010–11 school year because the DOE tacitly consented to his enrollment at the private school program by failing to provide an alternative. The court also affirmed the district court's fee award. View "Sam K. v. Hawaii Dept. of Educ." on Justia Law

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A panel of the Ninth Circuit filed an amended opinion in this dispute regarding attorney’s fees. In the amended opinion, the panel affirmed in part and reversed in part the district court’s award of attorney’s fees and costs to Capristrano Unified School District as the prevailing defendant in an action brought by the mother of a special education student alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and 42 U.S.C. 1983. The panel (1) agreed with the district court that the ADA and section 1983 claims were frivolous and affirmed the award of attorney’s fees and costs for representation relating to those claims; and (2) disagreed with the district court that the IDEA and Rehabilitation Act claims were frivolous and/or brought for an improper purpose and reversed the district court to the extent that it awarded attorney’s fees and costs related to the litigation of those claims. The cause was remanded. The panel also filed an order amending the opinion, denying a petition for rehearing and a suggestion for rehearing en banc, and directing the mandate to issue forthwith. View "C.W. v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs in these consolidated appeals were two local educational agencies in California, a school district and a county office of education. In separate actions, Plaintiff sued the California Department of Education in federal court alleging that, in resolving disputes between parents and the school districts, the Department routinely violated certain procedural requirements imposed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations. The district court dismissed the actions, concluding that Plaintiffs lacked a statutory right of action to seek declaratory and injunctive relief regarding alleged violations of procedural requirements imposed by the IDEA. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding that school districts lack a right of action to challenge a State’s non-compliance with the IDEA’s procedural protections in the context of complaint resolution proceedings. View "Fairfield-Suisun Unified Sch. Dist. v. Cal. Dep’t of Educ." on Justia Law

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C.W. was eligible for special education services and was in a special day class within the Capistrano Unified School District. K.S. consented to an occupational therapy assessment for C.W. K.S. then requested an independent assessment at public expense based on her disagreement with the occupational therapy report. The District denied the request and then initiated a due process hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). The ALJ concluded that the District’s assessment was appropriate. K.S. appealed, claiming violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 1983, and Rehabilitation Act. The federal district court affirmed the ALJ’s decision and awarded the District attorney’s fees and costs. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding (1) the ADA and section 1983 claims were frivolous, and therefore, the district court correctly awarded attorney’s fees and costs for representation relating to those claims; but (2) the IDEA and Rehabilitation Act claims were not frivolous and/or brought for an improper purpose, and therefore, the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees and costs related to the litigation of those claims. View "C.W. v. Capistrano Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed a class action against Sweetwater, alleging unlawful sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. Plaintiffs alleged that Sweetwater intentionally discriminated against female student athletes when they failed to provide equal treatment and benefits as compared to male athletes. On appeal, Sweetwater challenged the district court's grant of declaratory and injunctive relief to plaintiffs on their Title IX claims. The court concluded that Sweetwater has not fully and effectively accommodated the interests and abilities of its female athletes; the district court did not err in its award of summary judgment to plaintiffs on their Title IX unequal participation claim; and the court affirmed the grant of injunctive relief to plaintiffs on that issue. The court rejected Sweetwater's claims of evidentiary errors; the district court's ruling that plaintiffs have Article III standing and its decision to deny Sweetwater's motion to strike that claim were not error; plaintiffs stated a prima facie case of Title IX retaliation; the district court correctly could find that a coach was fired in retaliation for plaintiffs' Title IX complaints, not for any of the pretextual, non-retaliatory reasons that Sweetwater has offered; and the district court did not abuse its discretion in granting permanent injunctive relief to plaintiffs on their claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment and rejected Sweetwater's attempt to relitigate the merits of its case.View "Ollier v. Sweetwater Union High Sch. Dist." on Justia Law