Leigh Law Group founder and partner Mandy Leigh recently argued before the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a longstanding special education case raising issues of first impression in the Ninth Circuit.
Any appearance before a Ninth Circuit panel is of course a privilege but more so in this case due to the participation of the United States Department of Justice who argued in favor of an interpretation of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) urged by Ms. Leigh.
The issue of first impression revolved around the interpretation of whether an auditory processing disorder constituted an “other health impairment” for purposes of IDEA eligibility. Leigh Law Group consistently argued that point in district court proceeding in the case stretching over 8 years. The history of the case is well articulated by a previous Ninth Circuit opinion in the case here.
The United States Department of Education, the agency charged with interpretation of the IDEA regulations regarding categories of eligibility, concurred and its interpretation of the regulations is entitled to “Chevron” deference, a standard derived from the United States Supreme Court case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837 ( 1984). Chevron deference means that the agency’s interpretation will be deferred to so long as it is a permissible one. Here, the interpretation that an auditory processing disorder may constitute an other health impairment appears to be a permissible interpretation of the IDEA.
Ms. Leigh then zealously advocated for her client’s eligibility at the time in question, due to his chronic auditory processing disorder which adversely impacted his education, in response to questioning from the panel of judges. Regardless of the ultimate result, this case will help define the contours of the IDEA for educators, parents, the judiciary and administrative bodies and legal representatives in the States of California, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii and Alaska.
Leigh Law Group considers it an honor to participate in the shaping of law and the process of resolving disputes. Only from fidelity to legal precepts and principles can an orderly society maintain. Leigh Law Group is a California law firm located in San Francisco and Marin counties practicing in the areas of special education law, education law, higher education law, employment law, business litigation and civil rights litigation.