The Supreme Court has determined that it will let stand a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit decision that held that a school can be held liable under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act for failing to identify a student in need of special education services.
The school district at the center of the case, the Compton Unified School District, from Compton, California, had appealed the case to the Supreme Court following the 9th Circuit’s decision. In April, the Supreme Court requested input from the U.S. Department of Justice in the case.
The IDEA requires school to create policies to ensure that students in need of special education services are “identified, located, and evaluated,” in what is known as the “child find requirement.” The Compton Unified School District argued that it could not be liable for failing to identify the student in the case, Starvenia Addison,* because it had not intentionally refused to provide her services.
However, at the administrative, district and appellate level, courts held that the “child find requirement” states that the school district could be held liable if it negligently failed to provide services. In this case, the 9th Circuit stated that the school district acted with “deliberate indifference” and with “wilful inaction in the face of numerous ‘red flags’” in regard to Addison’s disabilities.
“The petitioner’s liability arose not from school officials’ failure to detect Addison’s disability, but rather from their ‘delay in assessing and classifying those disabilities—which they had observed,’ and their continuing “disregard” even in the face of a recommendation from petitioner’s own psychologist,” the DOJ stated. “Petitioner makes no effort to challenge that fact-bound conclusion, and it does not merit this Court’s review.”
The Supreme Court declined to hear the case without comment.
* this is name of the student in court papers