Lozano Smith is well suited to assist clients in navigating through the complexities of special education law. Our Special Education Practice Group is dedicated to helping school districts comply with the countless procedural and substantive requirements of special education law, and is dedicated to protecting districts' interests when litigation arises. We understand the challenges faced by school districts in these times of increasing obligations and shrinking resources.
The Special Education Practice Group's attorneys have handled thousands of special education matters involving virtually every conceivable legal issue. Our attorneys stay abreast of new cases, laws, and hot issues, and ensure that all clients of the firm receive quality service and counsel at every turn.
Our practice is dedicated to help school districts with all areas of special education law, including:
The attorneys in the Special Education Practice Group have built meaningful, lasting relationships with their clients due to a unique dedication and commitment to protecting their interests. We have represented districts in numerous due process cases, thousands of mediations, more than 20 appeals to federal District Court, and several to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, more than any other law firm in California.Training for Special Education Administrators
Hundreds of special education administrators attend the Lozano Smith Special Education Legal Consortium (SELC) each year. This half-day seminar is conducted throughout the state and for individual clients as requested. It provides in-depth information on a variety of topics. Recent topics include How to Develop a Litigation-Proof IEP, Identifying and Serving Non-academic Needs, Avoiding Special Education Traps, and Hot Topics in Special Education Law. Topics for the SELC and all of the firm's workshops are carefully selected to highlight changes in the legal environment in which administrators must work.
In addition to the SELC, we provide in-service trainings to school districts on a wide variety of topics, ranging from student discipline to Section 504 to avoiding disproportionate representation of minority students in special education. Our attorneys have also been invited to make presentations at numerous conferences, such as the ACSA Every Child Counts Symposium, LRP National Institute, and LRP School Attorneys Conference.
The attorneys in our Special Education Practice Group represent school districts in every forum in which special education disputes are heard, including:
We have instituted, and defended against, numerous lawsuits involving appeals from Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) decisions as well as attorneys fee actions, and we have instituted actions to obtain restraining orders to remove special education students who pose a danger to themselves or others. We have also been successful in recovering mandated costs for state imposed mandates. We have handled special education matters in a variety of forums including the United States District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the California superior courts. We were instrumental in settlement of a Special Education Mandated Cost Claim providing all school districts, county offices, and SELPAs with $520 million in retroactive general fund reimbursement and $100 million as a permanent increase to the A.B. 602 base funding special education programs and services. (Education Code sections 56836.156 and 56836.157.)Sample of Successful Cases
In Alex G. v. Board of Trustees, we successfully defended Davis Joint Unified School District on all counts in federal civil rights litigation arising out of a special education dispute. Most notably, the District's successful motion to dismiss resulted in one of the first published decisions applicable in California to stand for the proposition that a plaintiff cannot predicate a suit for damages under 42 U.S.C. section 1983 for alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. (Alex G. v. Board of Trustees (E.D. Cal. 2004) 332 F.Supp.2d 1315.)
Also in Alex G., we successfully moved for partial summary judgment on behalf of the District, resulting in one of the first published decisions applicable in California to stand for the proposition that a plaintiff seeking to impose liability under the federal Rehabilitation Act (section 504) in the context of special education "must show that the educational decisions relating to the student were so inappropriate as to constitute either bad faith or gross misjudgment." (Alex G. v. Bd. of Trustees (E.D. Cal. 2005) 387 F.Supp.2d 1119.)
In Huerta v. San Francisco Unified School District (N.D. Cal. 2011), we successfully opposed a parent's appeal of the OAH's denial of a very expensive stay put placement.
In the case In re Q.N., Sacramento County Superior Court Juvenile Division, we successfully opposed a motion for joinder of Sacramento City Unified School District (Minute Order Apr. 1, 2010). In the juvenile matter, a minor attempted to join multiple school districts, alleging they were responsible for his special education out-of-state residential placement referred by the County Mental Health Department, even though the student was currently housed in juvenile hall. We successfully argued that so long as the student remained in juvenile hall, the County Office of Education, and not any individual school district, had responsibility for the recommended out-of-state placement, and that it was the County Office of Education's responsibility to implement the student's IEP and coordinate funding for the student's recommended out-of-state residential placement.