January 18, 2022

Ninth Circuit Issues Special Education Decision Regarding Dyslexia

Pacifica attorneys Carlos Chavez and Sarah Johnson successfully represented the Issaquah School District before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a dispute involving the appropriateness of a special education evaluation and the resulting educational programming for a student with suspected dyslexia. The Ninth Circuit rejected the parents’ argument that the District was obligated to formally evaluate the student at issue for dyslexia. Instead, the Court found that the District appropriately evaluated the student in all areas of suspected disability when it evaluated her for a “specific learning disability” in the areas of reading and writing. The Court concluded that the District did not violate the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when it found the student eligible for language-related services as a student with a specific learning disability, rather than using the parents’ preferred term of dyslexia.

The Ninth Circuit also held that the District was not required to use the parents’ preferred “dyslexia specific” teaching methodology with the student, reaffirming prior precedent that the use of a specific methodology is only required if necessary for the student to receive a free appropriate public education. The Court found the District was not required to specify parents’ methodology in the student’s individualized education program (IEP) given the student’s progress in the District’s program and the lack of any evidence that such a methodology was necessary.

A copy of the opinion can be found here.