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When school districts lost: examples of denial of FAPE

A school denies a student a FAPE when it materially fails to implement a student’s IEP. A material failure occurs when there is more than a minor discrepancy between what the IEP requires and what is provided. Van Duyn ex rel. Van Duyn v. Baker Sch. Dist. 5J, 502 F.3d 811 (9th Cir. 2007).

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To see how serious a violation has to be for it to be a violation of a school’s duty to provide a FAPE, the easiest way to is to look at real cases, and see examples of what is a denial of a FAPE.

In Van Duyn, where a student was provided only 5 of the 10 hours of math instruction called for in a student’s IEP the Court determined that there was a material failure, and that the school district did deny student a FAPE. That means, the parents won their case.

Here are some other examples:

The failure to include parent in an IEP meeting can deny student a FAPE. Doug C. v. Hawaii Dep't of Educ., 720 F.3d 1038, 1047 (9th Cir. 2013).

A poorly drafted IEP can constitute a denial of FAPE where it fails to include present levels of educational performance, and where the goals, objectives and services do not address the student’s needs. Aaron P. v. Hawaii, Dep't of Educ., 897 F. Supp. 2d 1004, 1020 (D. Haw. 2012).

In extreme circumstances, the teasing of a disabled child by a teacher can even constitute a denial of FAPE. M.L. v. Fed. Way Sch. Dist., 394 F.3d 634, 650-51 (9th Cir. 2005).

A failure to provide transitional services, and failure to conduct assessments was found to be a denial of FAPE by a federal court in Hawaii (within the 9th Circuit) where student was leaving a mental health facility for a large public school campus. Carrie I. ex rel. Greg I. v. Dep't of Educ.,

Hawaii, 869 F. Supp. 2d 1225, 1248 (D. Haw. 2012).

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