Doug C. v Hawaii Analysis - Wrightslaw

Doug C. v Hawaii Analysis - Wrightslaw

On June 13, 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an important decision about parental participation at IEP meetings. As a part of that ruling, the Court answered several issues and clarified the approach that must be used to determine the proper response when procedural rules appear to conflict with each other.
In Doug C. v. Hawaii, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit answered several critical questions pertaining to IEP meetings.

Must the school hold an IEP meeting before the “annual review deadline?” If the meeting is not held, do the child’s services “lapse” until a new IEP is agreed on?

If there are logistical scheduling conflicts for an IEP meeting, is priority given to the schedules of the school staff or the parent?

Can the school cure the failure to include a parent at an IEP meeting by convening a second IEP meeting with the parent within 30 days?

If a school district violates the first prong of providing FAPE (compliance with legal procedures), must the reviewing Court still determine if the district violated the second prong of FAPE (whether the IEP is “reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits”)?

If a Due Process Hearing Officer and a U. S. District Court Judge make a finding that the parent’s failure to participate in an IEP meeting did not deprive the child of FAPE, what is the standard of review for a U. S. Court of Appeals? Does it require a “de novo” review of the legal conclusions or a “review of the district court’s findings of fact for clear error?”

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