913 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2019), 16-56472, M.S. v. Los Angeles Unified School District

Docket Nº:16-56472
Citation:913 F.3d 1119
Party Name:M. S., a minor, BY AND THROUGH her guardian ad litem R.H., Plaintiff-Appellee, v. LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, a Public Entity, Defendant-Appellant.
Attorney:Barrett K. Green (argued) and Cristen R. Hintze, Littler Mendelson P.C., Los Angeles, California; Mary Kellogg, Assistant General Counsel II; Devora Navera Reed, Chief Administrative Law & Litigation Counsel; David Holmquist, General Counsel; Office of General Counsel, Los Angeles Unified School ...
Judge Panel:Before: Dorothy W. Nelson and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges, and Robert W. Pratt, District Judge.
Case Date:January 24, 2019
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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913 F.3d 1119 (9th Cir. 2019)

M. S., a minor, BY AND THROUGH her guardian ad litem R.H., Plaintiff-Appellee,

v.

LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, a Public Entity, Defendant-Appellant.

No. 16-56472

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 24, 2019

Argued and Submitted December 4, 2018 Pasadena, California

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Barrett K. Green (argued) and Cristen R. Hintze, Littler Mendelson P.C., Los Angeles, California; Mary Kellogg, Assistant General Counsel II; Devora Navera Reed, Chief Administrative Law & Litigation Counsel; David Holmquist, General Counsel; Office of General Counsel, Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles, California; for Defendant-Appellant.

Allison Barret Holcombe (argued), Los Angeles, California; Shawna L. Parks, Law Office of Shawna L. Parks, Los Angeles, California; Janeen Steel, Learning Rights Law Center, Los Angeles, California; for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Summer D. Dalessandro and Howard J. Fulfrost, Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost LLP, Carlsbad, California; D. Michael Ambrose and Elaine M. Yama-Garcia, California School Boards Association/Education Legal Alliance, West Sacramento, California; for Amicus Curiae California School Boards Association’s Educational Legal Alliance.

Selene Almazan-Altobelli, Ellen Saideman, and Alexis Casillas, Catherine Merino Reisman Counsel of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Inc., Towson, Maryland, for Amici Curiae Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates Inc. and California Association for Parent-Child Advocacy.

Suge Lee, Carly J. Munson, and Ben Conway, Disability Rights California, Oakland, California, for Amicus Curiae Disability Rights California.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, Christina A. Snyder, District Judge, Presiding, D.C. No. 2:15-cv-05819-CAS-MRW

Before: Dorothy W. Nelson and Kim McLane Wardlaw, Circuit Judges, and Robert W. Pratt,[*] District Judge.

SUMMARY[**]

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The panel filed an order affirming the district court's memorandum and order, which reversed an administrative law judge's decision in an action brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, asserting that a student was denied a free and appropriate public education.

The panel agreed with the district court's conclusion that the student was denied a free and appropriate public education because the Los Angeles Unified School District was required to consider whether a residential placement should be offered to her for educational purposes as part of her individualized education plan notwithstanding that another county agency, the Department of Children and Family Services, had residentially placed her for mental health treatment under state law, and pursuant to a juvenile court order. The panel agreed that the LAUSD had an independent obligation to ensure that a continuum of alternative placements was available to meet the student's educational needs and to consider whether a residential placement was necessary for educational purposes and not merely necessary quite apart from the learning process. The panel affirmed for the reasons stated in the district court's memorandum and decision, which the panel attached as an appendix to its order.

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ORDER

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) appeals from the district court’s Memorandum and Order reversing the administrative law judge’s (ALJ) decision in an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) action asserting the denial of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). 20 U.S.C. § § 1400-1482.

The district court correctly concluded that M.S. was denied a FAPE because LAUSD was required to consider whether a residential placement should be offered to M.S. for educational purposes as part of her individualized education plan (IEP) notwithstanding that another county agency, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), had residentially placed her for mental health treatment under state law, and pursuant to a Juvenile Court order. In a thorough and well-reasoned opinion, the district court concluded that the LAUSD "had an independent obligation to ‘ensure that a continuum of alternative placements [was] available to meet [M.S.’s educational] needs,’ 34 C.F.R. § 300.115(a)— and to consider whether a residential placement was ‘[ ] necessary for educational purposes’ and not merely ‘necessary quite apart from the learning process.’ " See Clovis Unified Sch. Dist. v. Cal. Office of Admin. Hearings, 903 F.2d 635, 643 (9th Cir. 1990).

We agree with the district court’s conclusion, and affirm for the reasons stated in the district court’s Memorandum and Decision, reissued January 9, 2019, and attached hereto as Appendix A.

AFFIRMED.

Appendix A

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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

M. S.

v.

LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT

2:15-cv-05819-CAS-MRW

Present: The Honorable CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, JUDGE

January 9, 2019

CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

Proceedings: CORRECTED MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON APPEAL FROM ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE'S DECISION

On September 12, 2016, the Court issued an order in the above-captioned case reversing in part the administrative law judge's decision. See Case No. CV 15-5819 CAS, Dkt. No. 47. The Court issues the following corrected order.

I INTRODUCTION

This case arises under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the "IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400, et seq. On July 31, 2015, plaintiff M.S., a minor, by and through her Guardian Ad Litem, R.H. (collectively, "plaintiff or "M.S."), filed suit against defendant Los Angeles Unified School District ("the District" or "LAUSD"), alleging violation of the IDEA and seeking reversal of the Administrative Law Judge's ("ALJ") May 4, 2015 decision as to three issues.1

Presently before the Court is M.S.'s administrative appeal. A hearing was held on June 3, 2016. Plaintiff presents the following three primary issues for determination: (1) Whether the District denied plaintiff of a Free and Appropriate Public Education under the IDEA by failing to discuss placement at a residential treatment facility at the October 21, 2014 IEP meeting, see Student Issue 1(A)(5); (2) Whether the District denied plaintiff of a Free and Appropriate Public Education under the IDEA by predetermining the question of placement at a residential treatment facility at the October 21, 2014 IEP

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meeting, see Student Issue 1(A)(7); and (3) Whether the District denied plaintiff of a Free and Appropriate Public Education under the IDEA by failing to offer placement at a residential treatment facility in the February 26, 2014 IEP and October 21, 2014 IEP meetings, see Student Issue 1(A)(11).

Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.

II. STATUTORY FRAMEWORK

The IDEA grants federal funds to state and local agencies to provide a special education to children with disabilities. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a); Ojai Unified Sch. Dist. v. Jackson, 4 F.3d 1467, 1469 (9th Cir. 1993). To this end, schools are charged with the responsibility of identifying and assessing all children who are suspected of having disabilities and are in need of special education and related services. 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(3); 34 C.F.R. § 300.111;

see also Cal. Educ. Code § 56302.

The purpose of the IDEA is, among other things, to provide all children with disabilities a free appropriate public education [('TAPE")] that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further employment and independent living; [] to ensure that the rights of children with disabilities and parents of such children are protected; [] and to assist States, localities, educational service agencies, and Federal agencies to provide for the education of all children with disabilities.

20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A)-(C).

This purpose is implemented through the development of an individualized education plan ("IEP"). An IEP is crafted by a team that includes a student's parents, teachers, and the local educational agency. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d). The IEP contains the student's present level of performance, annual goals, short and long term objectives,

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specific services to be provided, the extent to which the student may participate in regular educational programs, and criteria for measuring the student's progress. Id.

The IDEA requires that educators also guarantee certain procedural safeguards to children and their parents, including: notification of any changes in identification, education and placement of the student; parental presence at...

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