E.E. v. Norris School District, No. 20-17270 (9th Cir. 2021)Annotate this Case
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court's preliminary injunction ordering E.E.'s current educational placement as his "stay put" placement during the pendency of judicial proceedings in a suit brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
The panel concluded that the ALJ acted without legal authority in determining that E.E.'s potential future placement in the 2020 individualized education plan (IEP) constituted his current placement for purposes of E.E.'s stay put placement. Therefore, because the ALJ acted ultra vires, her stay put determination was void. Consequently, the parents' stay put motion did not seek to modify an existing stay put order, so the district court correctly entered an automatic preliminary injunction pursuant to Joshua A. v. Rocklin Unified Sch. Dist., 559 F.3d 1036, 1037 (9th Cir. 2009). Furthermore, the school district's proposed exception to the stay put provision is not supported by either the text of the IDEA or any other legal authority, and the panel declined to adopt it.
Court Description: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The panel affirmed the district court’s preliminary injunction order designating student E.E.’s current educational placement as his “stay put” placement during the pendency of judicial proceedings in a suit brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The IDEA’s stay put provision provides that “the child shall remain in the then-current educational placement” pending any proceedings. The panel held that this means the educational setting in which the student is actually enrolled at the time the parents request a due process hearing, and it is typically the placement set forth in the student’s most recently implemented individualized education plan (“IEP”). The panel held that the district court properly deemed void and without legal authority an administrative law judge’s designation of a never-implemented 2020 IEP, rather than a 2018 IEP, as E.E.’s stay put placement. Accordingly, the parents’ stay put motion in the district court functioned as an automatic preliminary injunction, and they were not required to meet the traditional preliminary injunction factors. The panel declined to adopt an exception to the stay put requirement when a student challenges the then-current placement as a failure to offer a free appropriate public education. E.E. V. NORRIS SCHOOL DISTRICT 3