Law and Rights
School Districts Must Revise IEP Annually Or They May Not Be Providing A Free And Appropriate Education
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995
In the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision Anchorage School District v. M.P.
(July 19, 2012, No. 10-36065), the Court ruled that the lack of an updated annual IEP (Individualized Education Program) plan resulted in M.P. (student) not receiving a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE). The Court also ruled that the parents were to receive reimbursement for private tutoring and attorneys fees.
Judge Paez stated that a school district has only two options if the annual IEP remains unsigned (e.g. a parent wants more changes, rejects it, etc.). The District must then either:
1) Continue working with the parents to develop an IEP which is accepted by all, OR
2) Revise the IEP on their own and file a due process hearing to seek administrative approval of the proposed IEP.
This is significant. There are many times that parents have a signed IEP, e.g. from 2 years ago, but no signed IEP since that time due to disputes. However, as explained in Anchorage
, this would evidence a lack of FAPE. A district cannot just continue relying on the old outdated IEP while the child "advances" from grade to grade. Rather, as the Court explained, they have "an affirmative duty to review and to revise, at least annually, an eligible child''s IEP."
If they do not, the district can be attacked for a lack of FAPE and may have to pay for services (compensatory education) provided by the parents during the time there was no FAPE.
The Court also was not deterred by the argument that the parents were too litigious and somehow stopped the annual IEP from being finalized. Instead, Judge Paez opined that regardless of the parents exercise of their right to object, the district must update the annual IEP to ensure a student receives appropriate services.
This is a wonderful opinion for parents which should ensure that students don't get stuck with outdated IEP documents with pointless goals from many years before. If there is an impasse, the school district must work with the parents to finalize the IEP or go to hearing.
This is not a long decision and is a good read. I encourage all parents of special education students to review it!Best,
Michelle BallEducation Law AttorneyLAW OFFICE OF MICHELLE BALL717 K Street, Suite 228Sacramento, CA 95814Phone: 916-444-9064Fax: 916-444-1209Website: http://www.edlaw4students.com/ Blog: http://edlaw4students.blogspot.com/ Twitter: http://twitter.com/michelleaball Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/user/EdLaw4Students Faceboook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Law-Office-of-Michelle-Ball/191273330901857
[please like my office on Facebook, subscribe via twitter and email, and check out my videos on Youtube!]
- Special Education Basics: "we Don't Have Those Here" Is Not A Legal Reason To Deny Special Education Services
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995 So many times I have met with parents who are beside themselves, unable to obtain services for their child based on a school "not having" services available at their site or in their...
- Education After Expulsion: Are Students Still Allowed To Go To School?
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995 Expulsion from school can be devastating for students. The expelled child may not be able to return to a regular school, is denied access to district or school activities, and...
- Can Iep Teams Say "no" To Special Education Services Based On Money Woes? No, No And No!
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995 Oftentimes parents attend an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, and although their child needs additional services to meet his or her goals, can be denied needed services...
- Interdistrict Transfers In California: Can A School Require You To Reapply?
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995 Interdistrict transfers (move of student from one school district to another at parent request) are common events. A parent does not like where their child attends school,...
- Idea Court Case - C.b. V. Garden Grove - Upholding Parents Right To Reimbursement For Private School Placement
By Michelle Ball, California Education Attorney for Students since 1995 Recently, the Ninth Circuit Court affirmed the United States District Court for the Central District of California's decision in CB v. Garden Grove Unified School District (2009)....
Law and Rights