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Monday, May 3, 2010

Court holds in favor of parent on IDEA retaliation claim

C.O. v. PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS (Or. 3-31-2010):

An Oregon District Court held that a parent can assert a claim for for nominal damages for retaliation under the IDEA and under §1983 for a violation of the IDEA despite the absence of an explicit provision authorizing such a claim. Authority for this holding is found in a line of Supreme Court cases finding an implied cause of action for retaliation in civil rights statutes. To prevail, the parent must prove 1) that the plaintiff engaged in protected activity; 2) an adverse action; and 3) a causal relationship between the two.

Parent alleged that the attorney for the district refused to engage in informal discovery as required by state Oregon state law and for refusal to allow communication with district personnel in advance of the hearing. The Court found that the attorney’s actions were taken in retaliation for Oman's decision to pursue to hearing her parental right to advocate for her child’s educational rights and that these actions were intended to and did deter Oman from asserting her rights. The Court then awarded $1 in nominal damages against the attorney and the school district.