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Monday, November 1, 2010

Supreme Court to Consider 'Miranda' Rights of Juveniles at School

See School Law Blog for this interesting article. Note that the student at issue was a 13 year old special education student when he was questioned at school about a string of burglaries.

SRO holds that IHO exceeded authority in awarding interim relief

SRO 10-083: In what is an interesting and potentially very important case, the SRO sustained the district’s appeal of an IHO pendency decision that had ordered the provision of a 1:1 health paraprofessional for a child parentally placed in a private school. The IHO had initially determined that the child was not entitled to the 1:1 health para pursuant to pendency, but awarded same reasoning, inter alia, that the child might be precluded from attending school without the service. The SRO held that the award of interim relief was at odds with the statutory and regulatory pendency provisions. The parents argued that the award was an “equitable order” and not one based upon pendency. The SRO rejected this argument reasoning that the order was, on its face, a pendency order. The SRO cast doubt upon whether an IHO has the authority to award interim relief.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

3rd Circuit rules that IDEA statute of limitations applies to claims that accrued prior to enactment

STEVEN I. v. CENTRAL BUCKS SCHOOL DISTRICT, (3rd Cir. 2010):

The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals held that the 2 year IDEA statute of limitations applies to compensatory education claims that are brought after the statute's effective date but that arise from conduct that occurred before the statute's passage. The Court reasoned that the time period between IDEA 2004's enactment and the effective date of its statute of limitations (7 months) gave the parent ample time to become aware of the change in the law and a reasonable opportunity to file a claim based on conduct dating back much further than permitted under the 2 year statute of limitations.

3rd Circuit affirms equitable, non-monetary compensatory education award

FERREN C. v. School Dist. of Philadelphia, 612 F. 3d 712 (3rd Cir. 2010): The student is 24 years old. She had previously been awarded 3 years of compensatory education, the funding of which was to come from a trust that the District had set up. The District, however, disputed the obligation to provide IEPs and serve as the LEA. The private school at which the student was to receive her comp ed required a student's home school district to sign the IEP and serve as the student's LEA. The parent’s requested a hearing to compel the District to provide IEPs and serve as the LEA. The District prevailed at hearing and at the state review level. The District Court, however, ordered the School District for the duration of the student’s three years of compensatory education to annually reevaluate her, provide her with annual IEPs, and serve as her LEA. In affirming the District Court, the Circuit Court found that the Court’s power to award equitable relief is not limited to reimbursement. Rather, the Court has the power to award non-monetary equitable relief and that the non-monetary relief awarded by the Court here was appropriate.

Interesting case regarding mootness and jurisdiction

District of Columbia v. Doe (D.C. Cir. 2010): This case has been litigated for years. It is ostensibly about the suspension and alternative placement of a 6th grader, but the events occurred in 2004. The issue that survived was whether an IDEA hearing officer has the authority to revise district imposed discipline upon finding that an infraction is not a manifestation of a disability. The case went up and down the court system a few times over the years. Not surprisingly, the issue of mootness was raised. The Circuit Court held that the case was not moot, because it was capable of repetition while evading review. What makes this interesting is that the analysis was done without regard to the particular student in this case. The Court concluded that the District was almost certain to encounter the issue again and that it would evade review as the student seeking review of disciplinary matters is often done with school or otherwise ineligible for IDEA protections by the time the review process is concluded.

The Court recognized that a school has an obligation to provide the disciplined child with a FAPE and then concluded that an IDEA hearing officer has the authority to determine whether the District has in fact provided the disciplined child, even one for whom manifestation is not found, with a FAPE.