Saturday, October 16, 2010

Northern California Judge denies Premlinary Injunction in IDEA case

President Bush signs IDEA, photo:
Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong denied a preliminary injunction to parents who wanted the Shoreline Unified School District to pay for their special needs son's education.  This may mean that the parents must pay for private school education themselves.

DL, the plaintiff, was born in September 1998, and was found eligible for special education shortly after his seventh birthday.  A psychologist, speech language pathologist and resource specialist met to produce an individual education plan (IEP) to meet DL's needs.  As an ALJ later noted, the IEP "is, on its face, not appropriate" because it failed to discuss goals or express objectives among other failings.  DL's father rejected the IEP and chose to have his son continue to attend Marin Waldorf.  During an October 2008 IEP meeting the principal of Marin Waldorf, Anne Harris, stated that she thought DL should be in a regular class with an unspecified time with a resource specialist.  The parents were unsatisfied and asked if disability services would still be in place at the school.  Someone told them no such services would be available.  On February 13, 2009 Marin Waldorf told DL's parents that DL would not be invited to return to the school for the following school year, a month later they requested a due process hearing in front of an ALJ.

The ALJ stated that Marin Waldorf denied the plaintiff a Free and Accessible Public Education (FAPE) for the 2008-09 school year and ordered the school district to reimburse DL.  However, there was no agreement as to where DL should attend school, nor was that part of the order.  While that action pended the parents enrolled DL at Star Academy and now seek a "stay put" order from Judge Armstrong requiring the defendant to reimburse DL for private school education.

Judge Armstrong explained that a "stay put" order requires the student to attend his current school pending the outcome of the proceeding.  However, the Ninth Circuit has ruled in L.M. v. Capistrano Unified School District that, "Because L.M.'s private program, chosen by his parents alone, does not qualify as a 'current education placement' under § 1415(j), the "stay-put" provision does not apply and the district court properly denied Parents' motion." Since there was no agreement or judicial decision as to where the student should attend there is no requirement for school district reimbursement.  She denied the request for a preliminary injunction and ordered a settlement conference.

The case is DL v. Shoreline Unified School District No. C 09-4753 and the opinion is below the jump.

DL v. Shoreline Unified School District

No comments:

Post a Comment