Justia Public Benefits Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Juvenile Law
Jeff D., et al v. Otter, et al
Plaintiffs, a class of indigent children who suffered from severe emotional and mental disabilities, sued Idaho state officials more than three decades ago, alleging that the officials were providing them with inadequate care in violation of their constitutional and statutory rights. The parties reached agreements intended to remedy deficiencies in care and those agreements were embodied in three consent decrees entered and monitored by the district court. Plaintiffs appealed the 2007 order of the district court finding that defendants had substantially complied with the remaining Action Items, which were specified in an Implementation Plan that resulted from the third consent decree, asserting that it was error for the district court to apply the standard for civil contempt in determining whether to vacate the decrees. Plaintiffs further contended that the district court committed errors in fact and law in issuing protective orders barring them from taking supplemental depositions of appellee and two non-parties. The court held that the district court's application of the contempt standard with the imposition of the burden of proof on plaintiffs was error where the district court accepted the Action Items as the entire measure of compliance with the consent decree. Accordingly, the court reversed the order of the district court. The court also held that the district court committed no errors in upholding the assertion of the deliberative process privilege to one non-party and appellee, as well as the legislative privilege to the second non-party. Accordingly, the court did not abuse its discretion in issuing the protective orders.
Orange County Dept. of Educ. v. California Dept. of Educ., et al
A.S., a California minor, filed a request for a special education due process hearing where he was eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., as an emotionally disturbed child. At issue was which California agency was responsible for funding a special education student's placement in an out-of-state residential treatment facility. The court requested the California Supreme Court exercise its discretion and decide the following certified question, "Whether under California law the school district responsible for the costs of a special education student's education while the student is placed at an out-of-state residential treatment facility is the district in which the student's de facto parent, who is authorized to make educational decisions on behalf of the student, resides."
Sumter County School District v. Joseph Heffernan, et al.
Appellees, the parents of a child with moderate-to-severe autism, filed due process proceedings against the Sumter County School District #17 ("District") seeking a determination that the District did not provide a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE") to the child as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(1)(A). At issue was whether the district court erred by concluding that the District failed to provide the child with a FAPE and that the program established by the child's parents to educate him at home was appropriate. The court held that that the district court did not err in concluding that the District failed to provide the child with FAPE for the 2005-2006 school year where the district court considered the evidence of the child's small improvements in a few tested areas against the District's conceded failure to provide the hours of therapy required for the child, the evidence that the lead teacher and aides did not understand or use proper techniques, and the evidence that it took one teacher months of working with the child to correct the problems caused by the improper techniques. The court also held that the district court did not err by finding that the District was not capable of providing FAPE to the child where the District's evidence was not compelling enough to establish it's improved capabilities at the time of the due process hearing. The court also held that the evidence was sufficient to support the district court's findings that the home placement was reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits.
Forest Grove School District v. T.A.
Appellant, a former student in the Forest Grove School District ("Forest Grove"), appealed the district court's determination that he was not entitled to an award of reimbursement for his private school tuition under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(2)(C). At issue was whether the district court abused its discretion in holding that equitable considerations did not support any award of private-school tuition at Mount Bachelor Academy as a result of Forest Grove's failure to provide appellant with a Free and Appropriate Education ("FAPE") under the IDEA. The court held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in holding that there was sufficient evidence in the record to support the district court's factual determination where appellant's parents enrolled him at Mount Bachelor solely because of his drug abuse and behavioral problems.