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COPAA Files 9th Circuit Brief Encourages School districts to Pursue Child Find Obligations

Monday, February 27, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

COPAA filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit, J.K and J.C., and K.K.-R.  v. Missoula County Public Schools, on February 17, 2017 in support of the Appellants (parents and the minor child). Joining COPAA in the filing was Disability Rights Montana (DRM) as amici.

For nearly 30 years, the Supreme Court has interpreted the IDEA broadly and advanced the position that Congress, in enacting the statute, did not intend to create a right without a meaningful remedy. See Forest Grove Sch. Dist. v. T.A., 557 U.S. 230 (2009); Winkelman v. Parma City Sch. Dist., 550 U.S. 516 (2007). Here the district court erred by failing to assess when the parents knew or should have known that K.K.-R. had a qualifying disability under IDEA and that she needed special education. These are the elements of K.K.-R's child find cause of action.

The plain language of the statute makes clear that IDEA's statute of limitations starts to run when the parents knew or should have known about the facts which give rise to their cause of action (discovery rule), not when the events occurred (occurrence rule). Application of the discovery rule fits within the larger context of IDEA's goal of ensuring appropriate education for all children with disabilities. After all, if school district personnel, with all their expertise failed to find K.K.-R. eligible for special education, her parents, likewise should not be charged with knowledge of facts necessary to establish their cause of action.

The approach used by Amici encourages school districts to vigorously pursue their child find obligations and ensure children with disabilities have a full and meaningful remedy as Congress intended. The district court’s approach, by contrast, frustrates the Congressional mandate in IDEA to “enabl[e] each child with special needs to reach his or her full potential.”  G.L. v. Ligonier Valley Sch. Dist., 802 F. 3d 601, 626 (3d Cir. 2015).

David Grey, COPAA member, assisted Selene Almazan and Catherine Merino Resiman, along with Tal Goldin, of DRM and COPAA member,  with the drafting and writing. David Grey filed the brief on behalf of COPAA. Andree Larose, COPAA member represents the family. 

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