C.M. v. Lafayette Sch. Dist.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Disability Law
  • Date Filed: 09-16-2014
  • Case #: 12-15769
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Thomas for the Court; Senior District Judge Duffy; Dissent by Circuit Judge Rawlinson.
  • Full Text Opinion

Pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), a variety of assessment tools must be implemented when conducting an initial evaluation for the purposes of determining whether a child has a disability and when determining what content to include in an individualized education plan (“IEP”); Additionally, a child with disabilities is denied a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) when parents are not granted access to Response-to-Intervention (“RTI”) data because parental informed consent is required for both the initial evaluation and any special education services.

During the 2005 – 2006 school year, the Lafayette School District (“District”) assessed C.M., a child with learning disabilities, using the Response-to-Intervention (“RTI”) approach. C.M..’s parents did not receive RTI data that was used to create an individualized education program (“IEP”). In 2008, a private evaluation determined that C.M..’s current IEP interventions were inadequate. The parents filed suit alleging that the District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”) by failing to include RTI data in C.M..’s initial evaluation and by failing to provide them with RTI data, thus denying C.M.. a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). The district court granted the District’s motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court held that because the District used an assortment of assessment tools to create an IEP, RTI data was properly incorporated in C.M..’s initial evaluation. However, the panel held that the District violated procedural requirements of the IDEA by failing to provide RTI results to the parents, who should have been an integral part of the cooperative process in creating an IEP. By not furnishing necessary RTI data, the IDEA requirement of informed consent was not met because the parents were unable to approve C.M..’s initial evaluation and the specific interventions implemented by the District. Accordingly, the panel concluded that the District violated its procedural duty to provide C.M..’s RTI data to the parents before seeking consent for the initial evaluation. Furthermore, the panel held that withholding the RTI data precluded C.M.. from a FAPE because absent a complete awareness of the data, the parents were unable to consider various instructional interventions. AFFIRMED in Part, and REMANDED.

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