M.C. v. Antelope Valley Union High School District
September 8, 2016
What options are available if a school district is not implementing your child's IEP? Some parents find themselves in the unfortunate situation of having fought for their child's educational rights and obtained appropriate services for their child, only to have the school subsequently fail to implement those services.
School districts are required to provide all students with a Free and Appropriate Public Education, often times referred to as "FAPE". What constitutes "appropriate" is a point of much contention between parents, school districts and attorneys alike. Therefore, it has been left up to the courts to shed more light on what actually constitutes appropriate public education. Located below is a brief glimpse into how different courts have weighed in on this discussion. In determining whether the Local Education Agency has offered Student a FAPE, the proper focus is on the adequacy of the offer of placement. If a student fails to make progress within a reasonable period of time, the LEA must convene an IEP meeting to address the student's lack of progress. A LEA's continuation of inadequate services will almost certainly be regarded as a denial of FAPE.
Following an IEP meeting a parent may be left feeling as though some parts of the IEP are appropriate, while also believing that other parts of the IEP were not appropriately addressed. Can parents provide only partial consent to an IEP document, and if so, are school district's responsible for implementing the portions of the IEP that were consented to?
Emergency Interventions may only be used to control unpredictable, spontaneous behavior that poses clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the individual with exceptional needs, or others, and that cannot be immediately prevented by a response less restrictive than the temporary application of a technique used to contain the behavior. California Education Code Section 56521.1.
Traditional public schools are government operated and funded institutions. Being that these schools receive federal funding, they are required to follow federal regulations and mandates. With regard to special education rights and protections, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is the primary federal law governing public schools. The IDEA requires that each child be provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE"). The IDEA defines FAPE as follows: special education and related services that (a) have been provided at public expense; (b) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (c) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and (d) are provided in conformity with the individualized education. 20 U.S.C. § 602(9).
In Rowley, the United States Supreme Court provided that "implicit in the congressional purpose of providing a 'free appropriate public education' is the requirement that the education provided be sufficient to confer some educational benefit upon the handicapped child". (Board of Ed. Of the Hendrick Hudson Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 201-03 (1982); J.L. v. Mercer Island Sch. Dist., 592 F.3d 938 (2009)).
It can often be a confusing thing for both students and parents to understand; when is a student considered to be "at school" for disciplinary purposes? A quick exploration of the California Education Code can lend some assistance in answering this question.