D.R. v. Redondo Beach Unified Sch. Dist.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 12-20-2022
  • Case #: 21-56053
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Watford, J. for the Court; Hurwitz, J.; Vitaliano, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

"To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities...are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily." 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5)(A).

Petitioners removed their son, who has autism, from school and requested a due process hearing after Respondent proposed an individual educational program ("IEP") to place their son in a specialized classroom for most of the school day instead of a regular classroom. Petitioners argued that Respondent’s proposed IEP violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act’s ("IDEA") least restrictive environment requirement.The ALJ found that Respondent’s proposal did not violate the IDEA and the district court affirmed the determination. Petitioners appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which held that the proposed IEP failed to comport with the least restrictive environment requirement of the IDEA. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5)(A). The Court reasoned that the district court incorrectly assessed the child’s academic benefits by grade level rather than on the child’s progress on achieving the IEP goals and also erred by using the child’s reliance on an aid in the regular classroom to justify the more restrictive proposed placement of putting the child in a specialized classroom. Additionally, the Court held that Petitioners were not entitled to reimbursement for costs incurred, reasoning that Petitioners did not show that removing the child from school was proper under the IDEA. Affirmed in part and reversed in part. 

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