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C.C. v. Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, No. 15-10556 (5th Cir. 2016).

Facts:  C.C. was a student with a disability attending school in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District when he was placed C.C. in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (“DAEP”) for photographing another student sitting on the toilet in the restroom at school and allegedly transmitting the photographs without consent.  C.C.’s ARD Committee conducted a manifestation determination review and concluded that C.C.’s acts of illicit photography were not a manifestation of his disability.  As a result, C.C. was placed in the district’s DAEP.  C.C. challenged the manifestation determination review, but a special education hearing officer upheld the district’s decisions.  C.C. filed suit seeking to overturn the hearing officer’s decision, but the trial court agreed with the hearing officer and entered judgment in favor of the district.  C.C. then appealed to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Holding:  The Fifth Circuit affirmed the judgment in favor of the school district, finding no reversible error.  C.C. claimed that the district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and other constitutional and statutory provisions when it failed to reevaluate his DAEP placement after the Tarrant County Juvenile Authority declined to prosecute him for the felony of invasive visual recording. The appeals court disagreed and affirmed the trial court’s ruling in favor of the district.  The trial court had concluded that C.C. did not carry his burden of proof to show that the IEP and resulting disciplinary placements were inappropriate under the IDEA.  In addition, the district was under no obligation to review or change C.C.’s DAEP placement because the County Juvenile Authority declined to prosecute the student for a felony.

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