Tuesday, February 22, 2011

IDEA Court Case- Lake Washington v. Office of Superintendent

By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995

Today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ("Court"), the court which has jurisdiction over federal matters in California, Oregon, Washington, and several other states issued a decision in Lake Washington School District v. Office of Superintendent (http://www.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2011/02/22/09-35472.pdf).

 This decision defeated the Lake Washington School District's hope of pursuing a matter under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/uscode20/usc_sec_20_00001400----000-.html, as the Court determined that the District was not granted "standing" (ability to sue) under IDEA.  The Court thus shut down Lake Washington's action which attempted to limit postponements of special education hearings (aka due process hearings).

The decision also includes important discussion regarding just WHO has a right of action under IDEA and the scope of such actions.  The bottom line according to Judge Sidney Thomas is that the IDEA was written for students and parents and they are the ones who are granted rights under IDEA.  The Court also stated that IF a student or parent files a request for a due process hearing, a district must limit its response to the issues raised and cannot bring up new issues.

The decision responded to the Lake Washington School District's attempt to force the state to limit its postponement rights in due process hearings.  The matter was filed after a parent's attorney was granted a postponement by a hearing officer based on schedule conflicts.

My favorite part of the case is as follows (in the second to last paragraph of the case) where Judge Thomas states:


"In sum, we join our sister circuits in holding that a
school district or other local educational agency has no
express or implied private right of civil action under the IDEA
to litigate any question aside from the issues raised in the
complaint filed by the parents on behalf of their child. In this
case, the school district lacks statutory standing to challenge
the State of Washington’s compliance with the IDEA’s procedural protections. 
The district court correctly dismissed its complaint with prejudice. "

Another victory for students.


Best,


Michelle Ball
Education Law Attorney
LAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL
717 K Street, Suite 228
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-444-9064
Fax: 916-444-1209
Website: http://www.edlaw4students.com/
Please see my disclaimer on the bottom of my blog page [http://edlaw4students.blogspot.com/]. This is legal information, not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed by this posting, etc. etc.!  This blog may not be reproduced without permission from the author and proper attribution of authorship.

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