Shapiro v. Paradise Valley Unified School District No. 69

317 F.3d 1072 (2003)

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Shapiro v. Paradise Valley Unified School District No. 69

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
317 F.3d 1072 (2003)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

Isadora Shapiro (plaintiff) was a seven-year-old deaf child in the Paradise Valley Unified School District (district) (defendant) who used a cochlear implant to hear. Shapiro attended an out-of-state private school for three years as part of a grant study on children with cochlear implants. At the end of the three-year grant period, Shapiro’s family contacted the district to discuss keeping Shapiro at the private school due to the district’s lack of appropriate placements in its jurisdiction. The district had very recently begun a program for children with hearing implants, but Shapiro’s parents raised concerns about the newness of the program, its potential longevity, and the fact that Shapiro would be the only enrolled student with a cochlear implant. Shapiro’s parents requested a due-process hearing to determine Shapiro’s placement for the upcoming school year. Before the hearing, the district notified Shapiro’s parents that it would hold a meeting to create an individualized education program (IEP), but Shapiro’s parents told the district that they were unavailable on the planned date and requested a postponement. The district convened the meeting without inviting any of Shapiro’s current teachers from the private school and without Shapiro’s parents present. An IEP was finalized using information from past conversations with Shapiro’s parents and without an independent evaluation of Shapiro. The IEP was mailed to Shapiro’s parents for approval. Shapiro’s parents enrolled Shapiro in the private school for the upcoming school year. The hearing officer found that the district’s new program was an appropriate placement for Shapiro under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) but ordered the district to pay Shapiro’s private school tuition for the current year because the IDEA required current placements to stand while an IEP dispute was resolved. An appellate hearing officer affirmed the placement decision and reversed the tuition reimbursement. Shapiro filed suit in federal district court, which reversed the appellate hearing officer’s decision. The district appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Paez, J.)

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