When is a special education issue time-barred?

May 12, 2017


The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued a decision in Avila v. Spokane School District 81regarding when an issue in a special education due process case is time barred—that is—whether the issue in the case happened too long ago for the administrative law court to consider it. The administrative law court is the court that first hears a special education case.


In its decision, the Ninth Circuit refers to two sections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that contradict each other. The Ninth Circuit's interpretation of the IDEA in this case means that parents must file any given claim during the two-year period that precedes the date when they knew or should have known about the alleged action that formed the basis of their complaint.   


For example, if your child's school district failed to provide your child with any physical therapy during April and May of 2017 even though the school district had agreed to provide 30 minutes of physical therapy once a week, and you do not find out about this until February 1, 2018, you probably have until February 1, 2020 to file a complaint regarding this issue.


To better understand special education rights, contact a special education attorney.



Martha Millar





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