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Monday, May 3, 2010

School district’s obligations under the IDEA are triggered by residence, not by enrollment of the student.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA v. WEST (D.C. 3-30-2010) and D.S. v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (D.C. 3-30-2010): In the first action, the district sought recovery of attorney fees from the attorneys for the parents, a claim which was rejected by the Court. Of interest, the Court found that a district’s obligations under the IDEA are triggered by residence, not by enrollment of the student. In the second action, the IHO dismissed the parent's complaint as frivolous because the parent challenged the recommendations of the MDT despite the fact that her child was not enrolled. As in the first case, the Court held that a district’s obligations under the IDEA are triggered by residence, not by enrollment of the student.

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.      

Court awards pre and post-judgement interest on reimbursement award

B.P. v. CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG BOARD OF EDUCATION (W.D.N.C. 4-1-2010): Court awarded pre and post-judgment interest on reimbursement award–the prejudgment interest ran from the date of submission of the hearing request. The Court also awarded post-judgment interest on the attorney fee award.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

2nd Circuit upholds finding of liability against school district in ADA case

CELESTE v. E. MEADOW UNION FREE SCHOOL(2nd Cir. April 21, 2010): The student plaintiff in this ADA case had cerebral palsy. Architectural barriers in the school forced him to take a ten minute detour each way in order to reach and return from the athletic fields behind the school. Not only did this total twenty minute detour detract from the student’s participation as a manager of the football team, but it cut almost in half his time to participate in a typical forty-five minute physical education class.The 2nd Circuit affirmed the district court's determination of liability for denial of access to school programs conducted on the athletic fields, but vacated the award of damages and remanded to the district court for a new trial with respect to damages arising out of the denial of access to programs conducted on the athletic fields, as well as from the construction of a bus depot, and for a new trial on liability and damages, if any, arising from the construction of a sidewalk.