J. T. v. DC


United States Court of Appeals FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT Submitted November 12, 2020 Decided December 29, 2020 No. 19-7136 J. T., APPELLANT v. DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLEE Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (No. 1:17-cv-01319) Douglas Tyrka was on the briefs for appellant. Karl A. Racine, Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Loren L. Alikhan, Solicitor General, Caroline S. Van Zile, Principal Deputy Solicitor General, Carl J. Schifferle, Deputy Solicitor General, and Sonya L. Lebsack, Assistant Attorney General, were on the brief for appellee. Before: HENDERSON and GARLAND*, Circuit Judges, and GINSBURG, Senior Circuit Judge. * Judge Garland was a member of the panel at the time this case was submitted but did not participate in the final disposition of the case. 2 Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge HENDERSON. KAREN LECRAFT HENDERSON, Circuit Judge: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) provide its students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Plaintiff J.T. asserts that DCPS failed to provide her son, V.T., with a FAPE based on his 2017 individualized education program (IEP). After the IDEA administrative hearing officer ruled against her, J.T. filed this suit in federal court. The district court dismissed J.T.’s claim as moot because the 2017 IEP no longer governed V.T.’s education and J.T. did not seek retrospective relief. J.T. v. District of Columbia, No. 17-cv-1319, 2019 WL 3501667 (D.D.C. Aug. 1, 2019). Because the case presents a fact-specific challenge to particular provisions in an inoperative IEP, the parties agreed to a subsequent IEP and J.T. does not seek retrospective relief, we affirm the district court. I. BACKGROUND A. Statutes and Regulations The IDEA seeks to provide to children with disabilities a FAPE that “emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.” 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). The IEP is “the centerpiece of the [IDEA]’s education delivery system for disabled children.” Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311 (1988). At the beginning of each school year, a participating educational agency must have an IEP “in effect . . . for each child with a disability in the agency’s jurisdiction.” 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(A). The IDEA requires that every IEP include “a 3 statement of the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance,” describe “how the child’s disability affects the child’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum,” and set out “measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals,” along with a “description of how the child’s progress toward meeting” those goals will be gauged. Id. §§ 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(I)-(III). The IEP is prepared by a child’s IEP Team, which includes teachers, school officials and the child’s parents. Id. § 1414(d)(1)(B). The IEP Team must review and revise the child’s IEP “not less frequently than annually, to determine whether the annual goals for the child are …

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