Seattle School District No. 1 v. BS

82 F.3d 1493 (1999)

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Seattle School District No. 1 v. BS

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
82 F.3d 1493 (1999)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

AS (plaintiff) was a student in the Seattle School District (district) (defendant) who exhibited behavioral problems, including aggression, attention deficiencies, tantrums, and inappropriate affection. AS was referred to the district for a special education assessment, but the district’s evaluation found that AS did not have a disability. However, the district provided individualized attention and positive behavior reinforcement to cope with AS’s behavioral difficulties. AS’s family (plaintiffs) put AS in private counseling. AS’s behavior continued to worsen, leading to physical assaults and a hospitalization. AS’s private counselors and physicians recommended a residential children’s home to improve AS’s behavior. The district expelled AS from school and reevaluated her for special education services. The district found that AS was behaviorally disabled and warranted special services, but the evaluation did not address possible residential placement. The district held meetings to create an individualized education program (IEP) for AS and rejected the residential-placement recommendation of AS’s family and treatment team. The district’s IEP team did not include individuals with knowledge of AS’s possible disorders. AS’s family thought that the district’s special education evaluation was deficient and requested an independent psychiatric assessment, which concluded that residential placement was the only option for AS. AS’s family requested an administrative hearing to address the sufficiency of the district’s evaluation, and after hearing testimony from AS’s treatment team and the psychiatric assessor, the administrative-law judge (ALJ) ruled in favor of AS, ordering the district to pay for AS’s residential placement. The district filed suit in federal district court, which affirmed the ALJ’s decision. The district appealed to the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Fletcher, J.)

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