Articles Posted in Education Law

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Appellants are a sub-class of moderately to severely disabled children who have moved to intervene in a class action brought on behalf of all disabled students in the LAUSD against the LAUSD (the Chanda Smith Litigation). Appellants seek to intervene to challenge the legality of a new policy, adopted by LAUSD in 2012 as part of a renegotiation of the Chanda Smith parties’ settlement. The district court denied the motion to intervene. The court concluded that the district court abused its discretion in denying appellants’ motion as untimely under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a), and further erred when it found intervention unnecessary to protect appellants’ interest in ensuring the receipt of public education consistent with their disabilities and federal law. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Smith v. LAUSD" on Justia Law

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Petitioner and her son prevailed at both hearings concerning their due process complaint against the District. At issue on appeal is the district court's award of attorney fees, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1415, to petitioner's attorney, Tania Whiteleather. The district court awarded $7,780 in fees, substantially less than the $66,420 requested. The court concluded that the outcome of the administrative hearing was not more favorable to petitioner than the District's settlement offer and petitioner was not substantially justified in rejecting the settlement offer. The court concluded that it was not an abuse of discretion for the district court to apply the $400 rate without seeking additional rebuttal evidence from the District. Finally, the court concluded that petitioner's claim for paralegal fees was barred by collateral estoppel because the district court had already concluded that Dr. Susan Burnett was an education consultant in the expedited hearing appeal. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "Beauchamp v. Anaheim Union High Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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A.G. and her parents filed suit against defendants, alleging claims of discrimination under section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. 794, and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12131–12134, as well as tort claims under Arizona state law. The district court granted summary judgment on these claims for defendants. Defendants cross-appealed, challenging the district court’s order vacating taxation of costs. The parties settled on other claims, including claims under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400–1491. First, the court clarified federal legislation addressing special education for disabled children. The court concluded that the district court improperly dismissed A.G.’s meaningful access and reasonable accommodation arguments. The court concluded that a triable factual dispute exists as to whether the services plaintiffs fault the school district for failing to provide were actually reasonable, necessary, and available accommodations for A.G. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the school district on plaintiffs’ section 504 and Title II claims and remanded for further consideration. In regard to the state law claims, the court concluded that plaintiff's intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED) claim was correctly dismissed because there is no material issue of fact concerning the school district's conduct. Plaintiffs' negligent infliction of emotional distress (NIED) claim was also correctly dismissed where the district court found the facts alleged by plaintiffs did not rise to the predicate level typically required for such a claim in Arizona. The court reversed the district court’s summary judgment on claims for assault and battery where plaintiffs introduced evidence that creates an issue of fact as to whether the school district defendants physically escorted and restrained A.G. when she was not a danger to herself or others and despite knowing of her tactile sensitivity. Finally, the court reversed the district court's summary judgment on the false imprisonment claim where plaintiffs introduced evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether A.G. was a danger to herself or others when school district staff restrained her. The order denying costs to defendants is vacated. View "A.G. V. Paradise Valley Unified Sch. Dist." on Justia Law

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California Education Code 56346(f) requires school districts to initiate a due process hearing if the school district determines that a portion of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to which a parent does not consent is necessary to provide a child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400–1450. The ALJ concluded that the district offered an appropriate placement but Mother's refusal to consent prevented the district from implementing and providing a FAPE. I.R. appealed, but the district court affirmed. The court concluded that the district court erred in concluding that the district could not initiate a due process hearing to address Mother's refusal to the IEP's recommended placement. In this case, the district waited a year and a half before initiating a hearing, which the court determined was too long a period of time. Therefore, to the extent that I.R. lost an educational opportunity and was deprived of educational benefits for an unreasonably prolonged period, the district can be held responsible for denying her a FAPE for that unreasonably prolonged period. The court reversed and remanded. View "I.R. v. L.A. U.S.D." on Justia 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

Posted in: Education 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

Posted in: Education 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

Posted in: Education 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