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(6.74) Are there any other federal laws that help me if I sue the district for money damages?

(6.74) Are there any other federal laws that help me if I sue the district for money damages?

Yes. The law is not very clear, but a few courts have allowed special education students and parents to sue for money damages under the IDEA in combination with section 1983 of Title 42 of the United States Code, a federal “civil rights” statute. [Emma C.v. Eastin, 985 F. Supp. 940 (N.D. Cal. 1997); GoletaUnionElementary Dist. v. Ordway, 166 F. Supp. 2d 1287 (C.D. Cal. 2001), reconsideration denied, 248 F. Supp. 2d 936 (C.D. Cal. 2002 F.2d 591 (9th Cir. 1992) (unpublished opinion) (allowing plaintiff to pursue damages under IDEA). However, not all courts allow money damage claims. [Alex G. exel. StephenG. v.Board of Trusteesof DavisJointUnified Sch. Dist., 332 F. Supp. 2d 1315, 1319 (E.D. Cal. 2004).] Even those courts that allow parents to sue for money claims are reluctant to grant the claims since they do not want to put too much of a financial burden on schools. Instead, courts suggest it is preferable to reimburse for actual expenses or to award compensatory education or services rather than award money for pain and suffering or punitive damages. [EmmaC., 985 F. Supp. at 945; GoletaUnionElementary District, 166 F. Supp. 2d at 1296.]

Furthermore, although some courts have allowed claims against individual education officials, these officials can also be “immune” from suit if they could not have reasonably known that their actions were violating a clearly established legal right. [Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982); Act Up!/Portland v. Bagley, 988 F.2d 868 (9th Cir. 1993); Goleta, 166 F. Supp. 2d at 1299.]