S.W. v. Governing Board of East Whittier City School District, 011013 FED9, 11-55694

Docket Nº:11-55694
Party Name:S.W., by and through his natural parent Guardian Ad Litem Kathleen Koh-Wong, Plaintiff-counter-defendant -Appellant, v. GOVERNING BOARD OF EAST WHITTIER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT; EAST WHITTIER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants-counter-claimants-Appellees, and KATHLEEN KOH-WONG; WILLIAM WONG, Counter-defendants -Appellants, CALIFORNIA OFFICE OF ADMINISTR
Judge Panel:Before: KOZINSKI, Chief Judge, McKEOWN and M. SMITH, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:January 10, 2013
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
 
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S.W., by and through his natural parent Guardian Ad Litem Kathleen Koh-Wong, Plaintiff-counter-defendant -Appellant,

and

KATHLEEN KOH-WONG; WILLIAM WONG, Counter-defendants -Appellants,

v.

GOVERNING BOARD OF EAST WHITTIER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT; EAST WHITTIER CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendants-counter-claimants-Appellees,

CALIFORNIA OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS, Real-party-in-interest -Defendant.

No. 11-55694

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

January 10, 2013

NOT FOR PUBLICATION

Submitted January 7, 2013 [**] Pasadena, California.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Central District of California No. 2:09-cv-07437-ODW-SS Otis D. Wright II, District Judge, Presiding.

Before: KOZINSKI, Chief Judge, McKEOWN and M. SMITH, Circuit Judges.

MEMORANDUM[*]

S.W. appeals the district court's decision affirming a California Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") decision denying all but one of his claims for relief under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, and we affirm.

The district court did not abuse its discretion in affirming the ALJ's evaluation of witness credibility. The ALJ, as the finder of fact, is best positioned to assess witness credibility, and her credibility-based determinations warrant deference. Amanda J. ex rel. Annette J. v. Clark Cnty. Sch. Dist., 267 F.3d 877, 889 (9th Cir. 2001) ("[C]redibility-based findings . . . deserve deference unless non-testimonial, extrinsic evidence in the record would justify a contrary conclusion or unless the record read in its entirety would compel a contrary conclusion.") (internal quotation marks omitted). The record does not compel a contrary conclusion regarding credibility. In a lengthy decision, the ALJ carefully considered each witness's testimony, and the district court did not err in deferring to her determination that the school district's experts were more persuasive than S.W.'s experts.

Second, the district court properly concluded that S.W.'s individualized education program ("IEP") was not substantively defective under the IDEA due to an insufficient statement of present levels of performance, a lack of appropriate annual goals, or a failure to offer a placement reasonably calculated to provide S.W. meaningful educational benefit in the least restrictive...

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