Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Avila v. Spokane School District 81

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

March 30, 2017

Barbara Avila; Miguel Avila, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
Spokane School District 81, Defendant-Appellee.

          Argued and Submitted December 5, 2016 Seattle, Washington

         Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington D.C. No. 2:10-cv-00408-EFS, Edward F. Shea, District Judge, Presiding

          Mark A. Silver (argued) and Jeffrey A. Zachman, Denton U.S. LLP, Atlanta, Georgia; Richard D. Salgado, Dentons U.S. LLP, Dallas, Texas; for Plaintiffs-Appellants.

          Gregory Lee Stevens (argued), Stevens Clay P.S., Spokane, Washington, for Defendant-Appellee.

          Before: M. Margaret McKeown, Richard C. Tallman, and Morgan Christen, Circuit Judges.

          SUMMARY[*]

         Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

         The panel reversed the district court's dismissal, as barred by the statute of limitations, of claims under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

         The plaintiffs claimed that their child's school district failed to identify his disability or assess him for autism in 2006 and 2007. Agreeing with the Third Circuit, the panel held that 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(C) requires courts to bar only claims brought more than two years after the parents or local education agency "knew or should have known" about the actions forming the basis of the complaint. Because the district court barred all claims "occurring" more than two years before the plaintiffs filed their administrative due process complaint, the panel remanded for the district court to determine when the plaintiffs knew or should have known about the actions forming the basis of their complaint.

         The panel addressed another claim in a memorandum disposition filed concurrently with its opinion.

          OPINION

          CHRISTEN, Circuit Judge:

         The Avilas, parents of a student in Spokane School District 81, appeal the district court's order dismissing their claims that the District violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. The Avilas argue that the district court misapplied the statute of limitations in 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(3)(C) to their claims that the District failed to identify their child's disability or assess him for autism in 2006 and 2007.[1]

         In a question of first impression for this court, we conclude that the IDEA's statute of limitations requires courts to bar only claims brought more than two years after the parents or local educational agency "knew or should have known" about the actions forming the basis of the complaint. Because the district court barred all claims "occurring" more than two years before the Avilas filed their due process complaint, we remand so that the district court can determine when the Avilas knew or should have known about the actions forming the basis of their complaint.

         BACKGROUND

         Appellants Barbara and Miguel Avila are the parents of G.A., a student in Spokane School District 81. In 2006, when G.A. was five, the Avilas asked the District to evaluate him for special education services based on "[b]ehavior" issues. One of the reasons for this request was a preschool teacher's concern that G.A. might be "showing slight signs of autism." In December 2006, a school psychologist evaluated G.A. and concluded that although he displayed some "behaviors of concern, " G.A.'s behavior was not severe enough to qualify for special education services under the IDEA. G.A.'s mother was given a copy of the evaluation report and signed a form stating that she agreed with the evaluation results.

         In the fall of 2007, G.A. enrolled in kindergarten. A private third-party physician diagnosed him with Asperger's Disorder in October 2007, and the Avilas requested that the District reevaluate G.A.'s eligibility for special education services. A school psychologist concluded in a reevaluation dated April 14, 2008 that G.A. was eligible for special educational services under the category of autism and, from April 2008 until February 2009, the Avilas and representatives from the District met multiple times to discuss an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for him.[2] The Avilas and the District initially disagreed, but eventually signed an IEP in February 2009. G.A. then began attending ADAPT, a specialized program in the District for students with autism.

         About a year later, the District reevaluated G.A., assessing his behavior, speech and language, occupational therapy needs, and academic achievements, including reading, writing, and mathematics. The District then drafted another IEP. The Avilas did not agree with the reevaluation's findings and did not sign it. Instead, they requested an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at the District's expense. See Wash. Admin. Code § 392-172A-05005(1). The District denied this request.

         The Avilas filed a request for a due process hearing with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings on April 26, 2010. As required by law after the denial of a parent's request for an IEE, the District also initiated a due process hearing with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings to consider whether the District's reevaluation was sufficient. See Wash. Admin. Code § 392-172A-05005(2)(c). Ultimately, the ALJ ruled that the District's reevaluation was appropriate and that the Avilas were not entitled to an IEE at the District's expense. In a separate order, the ALJ ruled in favor of the District on all other claims. Specifically, he concluded that eleven of the Avilas' pre-April 2008 claims were time-barred. These claims consisted of nine procedural claims concerning the District's alleged failure to give prior written notice to the Avilas and two substantive claims. The substantive claims alleged that the District denied G.A. a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to identify him as a child with a disability in 2006, and that the District failed to assess his suspected disability in 2006 and 2007. The ALJ concluded that no statutory exceptions applied and held that the Avilas' claims were time-barred, reasoning "[t]he Parents['] due process complaint was filed on April 26, 2010 and any complaint by Parents regarding the District actions or inactions occurring prior to April 26, 2008 are barred by the statu[t]e of limitations."[3]

         The Avilas timely appealed both decisions to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, where their appeals were consolidated. The consolidated appeal addressed seven of the claims the ALJ deemed time-barred: five of their prior written notice claims ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.