I.R. v. Los Angeles USD

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 11-17-2015
  • Case #: 13-56211
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: District Judge Du for the Court; Circuit Judges Reinhardt and Clifton
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, school districts are required to initiate a due process hearing when the school district and parent disagree over the appropriate education program for a child who falls under the Act if the school district finds that the proposed special education program is necessary to the overall education needs of the child.

The California Education Code requires school districts to start due process hearings if a child’s parents do not consent to part of an Individualized Education Program (“IEP”), which is necessary to provide the child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). I.R., a child found to be eligible for special education before being enrolled in preschool, was enrolled by her mother in a private school from preschool through first grade. Before I.R. entered second grade, her mother enrolled her in a public school through the Los Angeles Unified School District (“LAUSD”). LAUSD later recommended that I.R. be placed in a general education class with one-on-one special education help, but her mother did not consent. I.R.’s mother later filed a request for a due process hearing. The administrative judge who conducted the hearing held that LAUSD offered an appropriate placement for I.R., and that the mother’s refusal of certain portions of the IEP prevented the school district from implementing and providing a FAPE. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that LAUSD was required to initiate a due process hearing. First, the panel found that the statute that the district court applied was inappropriate to this case, where a parent consented to certain portions of the IEP and not to others. Second, the panel found that the school district was required to take additional steps once I.R.’s mother consented to only some parts of the special education. The statute requires the school district to begin a due process hearing when they cannot agree with the parents and have found that the proposed education program is necessary for the child’s FAPE. The panel held that LAUSD failed to take these additional steps. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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