Anchorage School District v. M.P.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Education Law
  • Date Filed: 07-19-2012
  • Case #: 10-36065
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Paez for the Court; Chief Judge Kozinski and District Judge Burns
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a “stay put” order does not excuse an educational agency’s failure to provide an updated Individualized Educational Program for an eligible student on a yearly basis.

M.P. is a child enrolled in the Anchorage School District (“ASD”) who is eligible for special education and related services. M.P., through his parents, brought suit against ASD for failure to provide a free and appropriate public education (“FAPE”) after ASD used M.P.’s second-grade Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) for his third-grade year. The parties unsuccessfully attempted to revise the IEP, and M.P.’s parents identified portions to remain in “stay put,” which maintains the child’s then-current educational placement during the pendency of administrative proceedings. ASD postponed efforts for an updated IEP until the conclusion of the administrative proceedings. The district court held that ASD did not deny M.P. a FAPE because the lack of an updated IEP was mostly due to his “parents’ litigious approach.” The Ninth Circuit held that the “stay put” order did not excuse ASD from implementing a compliant IEP at the beginning of the school year. A “stay put” order means that the educational placement of the child cannot be changed. The educational placement of a child is not affected by updating the student's achievement and performance or establishing goals and objectives, so long as the setting for instruction is not significantly changed. The Court also held that an IEP developed for a second grader does not ensure educational benefits for a third grader; therefore ASD did not provide M.P. with a FAPE. Further, the Court held that M.P.’s parents were entitled to reimbursement for the private tutoring expenses, because ASD denied M.P. a FAPE and the alternative placement of the private tutor was proper under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. REVERSED in part and REMANDED.

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