A California school district (Compton) lost its appeal in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals for failing to identify the student as needing an IEP. The San Francisco Chronicle reported:
"Parents of a child with learning disabilities can sue a school district for ignoring the problems and failing to arrange tutoring or other educational help, a federal appeals court ruled Monday."
The student's work was described as being "gibberish" but the school failed to discharge its child find responsibilities to identify the disability. The fact that after Forest Grove that this case was not settled makes it newsworthy.
What is noteworthy about this case is that the decision was 2-1. One Judge on the panel reportedly stated:
"Dissenting Judge N. Randy Smith said the law authorizes parental complaints only to protest a school's wrongful actions, not its inactions or negligence."
Huh, really omissions to act are in this instance the flip side of the same coin. The U.S. Supreme Court in Forest Grove noted that failure to act was actionable. In fact the Supreme Court stated that:
"Indeed, by immunizing a school district's refusal to find a child eligible for special education services no matter how compelling the child's need, the School District's interpretation [of the statute] would produce a rule bordering on the irrational."
Apparently that "irrational" analysis has not trickled down to this Federal Court Judge in California. It always amazes me how some courts and hearing officers can distort even clear and basic principles of law to reach the conclusion that lets the school district off the hook, which fortunately in this instance did not happen.