Justia Education Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
Assoc. of Private Sector Colleges and Universities v. Duncan, et al.
The Association filed suit, under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. 706, and the Constitution, challenging the State Authorization, Compensation, and Misrepresentation Regulations the Department of Education initiated under the Higher Education Act (HEA), Pub. L. No. 89-329, 79 Stat. 1219, 1232-54. The court affirmed the judgment of the district court holding that the Compensation Regulations did not exceed the HEA's limits; the court mostly rejected the Association's claim that these regulations were not based on reasoned decisionmaking; the court remanded two aspects of the Compensation Regulations, however, that were lacking for want of adequate explanations. The court also held that the Misrepresentation Regulations exceeded the HEA's limits in three respects: by allowing the Secretary to take enforcement actions against schools sans procedural protections; by proscribing misrepresentations with respect to subjects that were not covered by the HEA, and by proscribing statements that were merely confusing. The court rejected the Association's other challenges to the Misrepresentation Regulations. Finally, with respect to the State Authorization Regulations, the court concluded that the Association had standing to challenge the school authorization regulation, but held that the regulation was valid. However, the court upheld the Association's challenge in the distance education regulation, because that regulation was not a logical outgrowth of the Department's proposed rules. View "Assoc. of Private Sector Colleges and Universities v. Duncan, et al." on Justia Law
Davis v. DC
Plaintiff brought this qui tam suit alleging that the District of Columbia and its schools violated the False Claims Act (FCA), 31 U.S.C. 3729-3733, by submitting a Medicaid reimbursement claim without maintaining adequate supporting documents. The district court dismissed the case, relying on the court's precedent in United States ex rel. Findley v. FPC-Boron Employees' Club. Because the court concluded that the Supreme Court had implicitly overruled Findley in Rockwell International Corp. v. United States, the court reversed. View "Davis v. DC" on Justia Law
Petit, et al. v. US Dept. of Education, et al.
Plaintiffs, parents of children who were eligible to receive a free and appropriate public education, filed suit to challenge the exclusion of mapping of cochlear implants from the regulatory definition of "related services" under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1401(26)(B). The court concluded that the phrase "audiology services" as used in the IDEA's "related services" definition did not unambiguously encompass mapping of cochlear implants. The court also found that the Mapping Regulations embodied a permissible construction of the IDEA because they were rationally related to the underlying objectives of the IDEA. The court further found that the Mapping Regulations did not substantially lessen the protections afforded by the 1983 regulations. Because the Department's construction of its own regulation was neither plainly erroneous nor inconsistent with the regulation, the court owed it deference. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the Department. View "Petit, et al. v. US Dept. of Education, et al." on Justia Law
Singh v. GW Univ. School of Medicine, et al.
Plaintiff sued defendant, alleging that defendant had unlawfully discriminated against her in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq. Plaintiff, a medical student who was diagnosed with dyslexia and a mild processing-speed disorder, contended on remand that the district court erred by failing to apply the 2008 amendments to the ADA and in relying on her prior academic achievement in assessing whether she suffered from a disability under the ADA. The court held that because plaintiff failed to show legal or clear factual error by the district court, the judgment was affirmed. View "Singh v. GW Univ. School of Medicine, et al." on Justia Law
Petties, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al.
The District of Columbia appealed the denial of its motion to vacate a preliminary injunction pursuant to Rule 60(b)(5) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The injunction was issued in 1995 in response to a class action complaint alleging that the District of Columbia was violating the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq., by failing to timely pay private providers of special education services and thereby jeopardizing students' special education placements. The district court denied the motion on two grounds: (1) dissolving the injunction and subsequent payment orders "would be disruptive to the status quo" and "counter-productive to the goal" of settling the case "in short order," and (2) the District of Columbia had "overstated both the relevance and the significance" of the Supreme Court's recent decision in Horne v. Flores. The court held that the district court failed to address changed circumstances, as Flores instructed, and reversed and remanded the case to the district court to determine whether, in view of changed circumstances, the District of Columbia's Rule 60(b)(5) motion should be granted. View "Petties, et al. v. District of Columbia, et al." on Justia Law
Pettaway v. Teachers Ins. and Annuity, et al.
After injuring her back in a car accident, plaintiff filed for and received long-term disability benefits from the insurance plan sponsored by her employer. Plaintiff brought suit pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA), 42 U.S. C. 29 U.S.C. 1001 et seq., against her employer and the administrators and underwriters of her employer-sponsored long-term benefit disability insurance policy after the claims administrator of that plan determined that she no longer qualified for benefits. At issue was whether the district court properly granted defendants' motion for summary judgment, finding no violation of law. The court held that because defendants acted reasonably, the court concluded that defendants' termination of plaintiff's benefits complied with federal law. The court found none of plaintiff's procedural claims persuasive and held that the district court did not err when it held that defendants did not violate plaintiff's right to a full and fair review of her adverse eligibility determination. The court also rejected plaintiff's argument that the district court violated local rule 7(h) where plaintiff failed to make this argument before the district court. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Pettaway v. Teachers Ins. and Annuity, et al." on Justia Law
District of Columbia v. Ijeabuonwu, et al.
The District of Columbia filed this suit to recover its attorneys' fees from a lawyer who brought an administrative complaint against the District on behalf of a student with special educational needs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. 1400(d)(1)(A). At issue was whether the District was a "prevailing party" under the IDEA in this suit. The court held that the facts in this case followed closely in the wake of the court's precedent in District of Columbia v. Straus where that court held that the district was not a "prevailing party" where its own change of position was what had mooted the dispute, causing the case to be dismissed. Therefore, the court held that the District, in this case, was not a "prevailing party" where the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) authorized an independent comprehensive psychological evaluation for the student, which mooted the only issue before the hearing officer. Accordingly, the district court's grant of summary judgment ordering the lawyer to pay attorneys' fees was reversed.