California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Important Case Decisions

Recent Case Law

As in all areas of law decisions made by various courts, known collectively as case law, are very important in the field of special education. When a court decides a case it establishes precedent. Precedent simply means that any court lower than the decision-making court is obligated to decide cases with similar legal and factual questions in the same way.

Precedent provides consistency and allows attorneys and their clients to evaluate the merits of their case based on how courts have decided similar cases in the past. The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the land, and as such its decisions are supreme. All other courts within the United States are bound to follow its decisions. Below the Supreme Court are the United States Courts of Appeals, and below the Courts of Appeals are the United States District Courts. Decisions from all of these courts, as well as from state courts and other administrative bodies, interpret and apply the requirements established in the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA and form the basis on which future special education matters will be decided.

The following questions are listed in the margin on the right by topic:

What are the rules regarding mainstreaming special education children?

What happens if the district delays in implementing my child’s IEP?

Does my child have the right to the same services she receives during the regular school year during the extended school year?

Does the district have to provide day care transportation for my child?

Does the district have the obligation to assess my child once it is on notice that my child might need special education services?

Must someone with firsthand knowledge of my child always be present at an IEP meeting?

Must the district include my child’s private school teacher at an IEP?

Do I have the right to choose my child’s aide or related services provider?

Is my child entitled to placement in a private school or a residential facility?

What happens when my child transfers to a new district?

What happens if the district delays in holding a due process hearing after I request one?

Can I collect attorney’s fees if I prevail against the district at a due process hearing?

Can I recover punitive damages from the district?

Can a district employee be personally liable for his or her wrongdoing?

Does the district have to pay its own damages if I am successful in a suit against them?

Can I bring a lawsuit against a district without first going through a due process hearing?

What privacy rights does my special education student have?