M.C., by and through his guardian ad litem M.N.; M. N., Plaintiffs-Appellants,
Antelope Valley Union High School District, Defendant-Appellee.
and Submitted August 2, 2016 Pasadena, California
from the United States District Court No.
2:13-cv-01452-DMG-MRW for the Central District of California
Dolly M. Gee, District Judge, Presiding
Christian M. Knox (argued), Colleen A. Snyder Holcomb, Daniel
R. Shaw, and F. Richard Ruderman, Ruderman & Knox LLP,
Sacramento, California, for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
R. Mishook and Christopher J. Fernandes, Fagen Friedman &
Fulfrost LLP, Oakland, California; for Defendant-Appellee.
Jennifer E. Nix and Carl D. Corbin, School and College of
Legal Services of California, Santa Rosa, California; Keith
J. Bray and D. Michael Ambrose, California School Boards
Association/Education Legal Alliance, West Sacramento,
California; Ronald D. Wenkart, Orange County Department of
Education, Costa Mesa, California; for Amici Curiae
California School Boards Association and Education Legal
Barrett K. Green and Daniel L. Gonzalez, Littler Mendelson
PC, Los Angeles, California, for Amicus Curiae William S.
Hart Union High School District.
Before: Stephen Reinhardt, Alex Kozinski, and Kim McLane
Wardlaw, Circuit Judges.
with Disabilities Education Act
panel filed an amended opinion reversing the district
court's judgment in favor of the defendant school
district and remanding for further proceedings in an action
brought by a student and his parent under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act.
panel held that the district court erred in deferring to the
administrative law judge's findings after a due process
hearing because the ALJ was not thorough and careful.
panel held that the plaintiffs did not waive a claim that the
school district violated the IDEA's procedural
requirements by failing to adequately document the services
provided by a teacher of the visually impaired. The
plaintiffs did not object to the omission of this claim from
the ALJ's restatement of issues, but they were not aware
until later that the school district had unilaterally changed
the student's individualized educational program (IEP).
The panel held that the school district's presentation of
evidence on the claim vitiated any waiver on plaintiffs'
panel held that, absent the parent's consent, the school
district was bound by the IEP as written, and the unilateral
amendment was a per se procedural violation of the IDEA
because it vitiated the parent's right to participate at
every step of the IEP drafting process. There was an
additional procedural violation because the IEP as initially
drafted did not provide the parent with an accurate offer of
the services provided to the student by a teacher of the
visually impaired. The panel held that the parent suffered
procedural harm by not being apprised of the actual status of
the services being provided, causing her to incur legal fees
in attempting to protect that right.
panel held that the school district's failure to specify
that assistive technology devices that were provided to the
student infringed the parent's opportunity to participate
in the IEP process and denied the student a free appropriate
panel held that the school district's failure to respond
to the plaintiffs' due process complaint violated the
IDEA and due process. The panel remanded for a determination
of the prejudice the parent suffered as a result of the
school district's failure to respond and the award of
appropriate compensation therefor.
substantive violations of the IDEA, the panel held that, due
to the procedural violation regarding services provided by a
teacher of the visually impaired, the burden of proof shifted
to the school district to show that the services the student
actually received were substantively reasonable. The panel
remanded so that the school district could have an
opportunity to make such a showing before the district court.
plaintiffs claimed that the school district denied the
student a free appropriate public education by failing to
develop measurable goals in all areas of need and failing to
provide adequate orientation and mobility services, as well
as adequate social skills instruction. The panel remanded so
that the district court could consider these claims in light
of Endrew F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist., 137 S.Ct.
988 (2017), which clarified that to meet its substantive
obligation under the IDEA, a school district must offer an
IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress
appropriate in light of the child's circumstances.
KOZINSKI, Circuit Judge.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
("IDEA") guarantees children with disabilities a
free appropriate public education ("FAPE"). 20
U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). We consider the interplay
between the IDEA's procedural and substantive safeguards.
suffers from Norrie Disease, a genetic disorder that renders
him blind. He also has a host of other deficits that cause
him developmental delays in all academic areas. M.C.'s
mother, M.N., met with several school administrators and
instructors to discuss M.C.'s educational challenges and
draft an individualized educational program
("IEP"). At the conclusion of this meeting, she