Independent School District No. 283 v. EMDH

960 F.3d 1073 (2020)

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Independent School District No. 283 v. EMDH

United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
960 F.3d 1073 (2020)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

EMDH (plaintiff) was a student in Independent School District No. 283 (district) (defendant) with several disabling diagnoses, including anxiety disorder, autism, agoraphobia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). EMDH exhibited high intelligence and performed well academically in elementary school. In middle school, EMDH’s conditions caused frequent absences, required schooling in psychiatric treatment facilities, and virtual schooling at home. Due to these behavioral issues, EMDH was unenrolled from the district and institutionalized multiple times, but due to EMDH’s demonstrated intelligence, the district did not conduct a special education evaluation of EMDH until her junior year of high school. The evaluation found that EMDH did not qualify for special education, but the assessment did not include systematic observations of EMDH or functional behavioral assessments. EMDH’s family sought an independent evaluation, which recommended special education, but the district rejected the outside input. EMDH requested an administrative hearing, alleging that the district violated its evaluation requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The administrative-law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of EMDH, requiring the district to create an education program for EMDH, reimburse EMDH for the independent evaluations, and pay for compensatory education such as tutoring. The district appealed to a district court, which affirmed the ALJ’s judgment but denied the award for compensatory education. Both parties cross-appealed to the Eighth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Erickson, J.)

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