The administrative record reflects that J.H., a ninth-grade student at Republic, struggles socially and academically at school. He has been diagnosed with conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Since he began attending Republic in the fifth grade, J.H. has been suspended numerous times for threatening his classmates and teachers, has made suicidal comments on multiple occasions, and has consistently performed poorly in his classes and on standardized tests.
At the end of J.H.’s fifth-grade year, Hansen initiated proceedings under the IDEA seeking special education services for J.H. He made a formal request with Republic for an eligibility evaluation, and when Republic determined J.H. did not qualify, Hansen exercised his statutory right to challenge the decision at an administrative due process hearing. The hearing was conducted before Republic’s Due Process Panel. After Hansen presented his case, Republic elected not to offer evidence and, relying on Hansen’s submissions, moved for a directed verdict. The panel granted Republic’s motion and issued a one paragraph opinion, concluding as a matter of law that J.H. did not qualify for special education services under the IDEA. Hansen sought judicial review of the panel’s decision in the district court under section 1415(i)(2) of the IDEA. Both Hansen and Republic filed motions for judgment on the administrative record. Based on the evidence in the record, the district court held that J.H. was disabled as defined by the IDEA and thus eligible for special education benefits. Republic appeals, asserting that the district court erred in holding that J.H. meets the statutory definition of a “child with a disability” based on the facts in the administrative record and, alternatively, that the district court erred in failing to remand the case to the panel for additional proceedings sua sponte.
Republic first argues that J.H. does not meet the statutory definition of a “child with a disability” based on the facts in the administrative record. The IDEA provides procedural safeguards to parents and guardians seeking to enforce a disabled child’s right to a “free appropriate public education.” See 20 U.S.C. §§ 1412 (a)(1)(A), 1415. One of those procedural safeguards is the right to bring a civil action to challenge the result of a due process hearing conducted pursuant to the statute. Id. § 1415(i)(2). In lawsuits filed under section 1415(i)(2), the district court is required to receive the records of the administrative proceedings, hear additional evidence at the request of a party, and independently determine the appropriate relief based on a preponderance of the evidence. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C); Yankton Sch. Dist. v. Schramm, 93 F.3d 1369, 1373 (8th Cir. 1996).
Judge(s): Bobby Shepherd
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Related Categories: Administrative Law
|Circuit Court Judge(s)|
|Trial Court Judge(s)|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Betsey Helfrich||Mickes & Goldman|
|Alefia Mithaiwala||Mickes & Goldman|
|Ernest Trakas||Mickes & Goldman|
|Celynda Brasher||Tueth & Keeney|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Chantel Alberhasky||Law Office|