Justia U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Education Law

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The DC Circuit held that the district court wrongly denied a stay-put injunction because it placed the burden of proof on the student rather than the local educational agency. Furthermore, the error had continuing adverse consequences for the student's claim for compensatory education. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. In this case, by holding that M.K. was not entitled to a stay-put injunction, the court held that the district court's order had the dual effect of both (i) empowering the school to continue excluding M.K. from its educational services, and (ii) limiting M.K.'s claim to compensatory educational relief for the time of that extended exclusion. The court reasoned that M.K.'s compensatory education request was not merely a "collateral consequence" of the underlying stay-put dispute, but it was part and parcel of it. View "Olu-Cole v. E.L. Haynes Public Charter School" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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After the Association filed suit alleging that the District's school funding practices inadequately fund charter schools, the district court rejected the Association's claims. The DC Circuit did not reach the merits of the Association's claims, holding that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the claims. In this case, none of the Association's claims under the School Reform Act, Home Rule Act, and Constitution arose under federal law within the meaning of the federal question statute. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded for dismissal of the complaint for want of jurisdiction. View "D.C. Association of Chartered Public Schools v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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USC petitioned for review of the Board's ruling that the full- and part-time non-tenure-track faculty of USC's Roski School of Art and Design exercised no effective control over university policies and, as non-managerial employees, were therefore eligible to join a union. The DC Circuit granted the petition for review in part, holding that the Board's decision, extending the majority status rule in Pacific Lutheran University, 361 N.L.R.B. 1404 (2014), to faculty subgroups, conflicted with N.L.R.B. v. Yeshiva University, 444 U.S. 672 (1980). Because the Board's subgroup majority status rule ran afoul of Yeshiva, and because the court was uncertain whether the Board would have reached the same conclusion absent that rule, the court remanded to the Board for further consideration. View "University of Southern California v. NLRB" on Justia Law

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Parents of Z.B. filed suit alleging that DCPS failed to offer Z.B. a fourth grade education appropriate to her needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The DC Circuit affirmed the district court's holding that DCPS complied with the IDEA in offering Z.B. the 2015 individualized education program (IEP), but remanded for the determination as to whether it did so when it offered her the 2014 IEP. In this case, it remained unclear whether and how DCPS itself made a valid assessment of Z.B.'s needs before it offered the 2014 IEP—and so whether that IEP was adequate. The court explained that the issue was whether each of the IEPs that was proffered was adequate at the time, not that it was the parents' burden to show that any possible placement in DCPS was not a viable option or would not have worked. View "Z. B. v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Education Law

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Plaintiffs, the parents of six children, filed suit against the District, alleging that it was violating the "Child Find" requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) by failing to provide special education to their children and hundreds of other preschoolers with disabilities. The district court certified the suit as a class action and entered a comprehensive injunction designed to bring the District into compliance with the IDEA. The DC Circuit held that the case was not moot where it remains justiciable under United States Parole Commission v. Geraghty, 445 U.S. 388 (1980), and where the relation back doctrine applied in this case. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion by certifying subclasses pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2). Finally, the court rejected the District's challenges to the injunction, affirming the district court in all respects. View "DL v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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CFPB filed a petition to enforce a civil investigative demand, seeking information relating to unlawful acts and practices in connection with accrediting for-profit colleges. The district court denied the petition. The court affirmed, concluding that the civil investigative demand (CID) did not comply with the governing statute, 12 U.S.C. 5562(c)(2). In this case, pursuant to section 5562(c)(2), the CID failed to advise ACICS of the nature of the conduct constituting the alleged violation which is under investigation and the provision of law applicable to such violation. View "CFPB v. Accrediting Council For Independent Colleges and Schools" on Justia Law

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Chenari, a third-year George Washington University medical student, took a test published by the National Board of Medical Examiners. Before the exam, the proctor read aloud the instructions from NBME’s official manual, including that students must complete the exam in two and a half hours and that “[n]o additional time [would] be allowed for transferring answers” to the answer sheet. Chenari also received a copy of “Exam Guidelines,” containing a similar warning. When the proctor called time, Chenari discovered that he had failed to transfer 20-30 answers to his answer sheet, “panicked,” and continued to transfer answers. The proctor requested that he stop; he continued. When the proctor tried to take the exam, Chenari put his hand over it and continued entering answers, taking an additional 90-120 seconds. The proctor and another student reported Chenari. Pursuant to University procedures, an Honor Code Council subcommittee investigated and recommended dismissal for academic dishonesty. The Medical Student Evaluation Committee unanimously recommended Chenari’s dismissal. The Medical School Dean met with Chenari and upheld that recommendation. Chenari unsuccessfully appealed to the Provost, arguing that his conduct lacked “an element of deceit” like “cheat[ing]” or “l[ying].” The D.C. Circuit affirmed dismissal of Chenari’s suit, which alleged breach of contract and discrimination based on his disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), 29 U.S.C. 794(a), and 42 U.S.C. 12132. The court noted that Chenari never sought accommodation of his claimed disability under the school’s established procedures. View "Chenari v. George Washington University" on Justia Law

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Parents of B.D. filed suit against the District, challenging the adequacy of a compensatory education award and seeking to enforce other portions of the Hearing Officer's Decision, as well as to require the District to secure a therapeutic residential placement. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the District. The court concluded that the parents have met their burden of demonstrating that the Hearing Officer, affirmed by the district court, was “wrong,” as he failed to award sufficient compensatory education to put B.D. in the position he would be in absent the free appropriate public education (FAPE) denial; neither 20 U.S.C. 1415(i)(2)(A) nor 28 U.S.C. 1331 provides a cause of action for parents seeking to enforce a favorable hearing officer decision; and the district court correctly held that the request for an injunction - the only relief count three specifically sought - had become moot. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, reversed in part, and remanded in part. View "B.D. v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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In these consolidated cases, plaintiffs sought attorneys' fees, including fees for work performed by a special education expert employed by their attorney, after prevailing in actions brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq. The district court denied plaintiffs' motion and plaintiffs appealed. The court concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that the special education expert is a highly experienced special education consultant and expert. Because the expert is not a paralegal, her fees were nonrecoverable as part of reasonable attorneys' fees. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment. View "McAllister v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law

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The parent of K.E., a student who was diagnosed with several learning issues, seeks reimbursement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., after she chose a private boarding school for K.E. The hearing officer and the district court denied reimbursement because, in their view, the child had no need to be in a residential program. The court concluded, however, that all statutory, regulatory, and judicial requirements for reimbursement of the costs of private school have been satisfied: the school district failed to offer the child a “free appropriate public education” in either a public school or a non-residential private school; the private boarding school the parent selected was, at the time, the only one on the record “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits” designed to meet the child’s needs; the residential component of the private school was in fact “necessary to provide a free appropriate public education to” the child; and the school district has not shown that the parent acted unreasonably. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Leggett v. District of Columbia" on Justia Law