Lozano Smith is known for and provides the highest quality special education expertise in California. The firm's special education attorneys have collectively handled matters involving virtually every conceivable legal issue in the field.

For example, Lozano Smith:

  • Was selected to represent CSBA in the mandated cost reimbursement litigation against the State of California that resulted in a $1 billion settlement in favor of the school districts.
  • Has represented districts in countless mediations, due process cases, and numerous appeals to federal District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • Has advised Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs) throughout California to develop Joint Powers Authorities (JPAs) and local plans, and has advised school districts through the process of becoming single district SELPAs.
  • Developed special education manuals, sample policies and procedures and a variety of forms and checklists.
  • Is often asked to present at local, state, and national conferences, including ACSA's Every Child Counts Conference and LRP.
  • Develops and presents annual Special Education Legal Consortiums and webinar series at numerous locations throughout the state.

Additionally, Lozano Smith represents and advises clients regarding:

  • Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meetings
  • Section 504 meetings
  • Unilateral placement of students by their parents in nonpublic schools or residential treatments centers
  • IDEA and Section 504 resolution sessions, mediations, prehearing conferences and hearings
  • IDEA and Section 504 discipline issues and hearings
  • Bullying, discrimination and harassment claims and complaints
  • Office for Civil Rights and California Department of Education investigations and complaints
  • Special education issues related to charter school students
  • Interagency disputes
  • Case analysis and preparation
  • Revocation of consent issues
  • Pre-hearing motions, evidence preparation and witness preparation
  • Settlement analysis and agreements
  • Provision of mental health services
  • California Superior Court writs of administrative mandamus
  • California Superior Court applications for temporary restraining orders (removing dangerous students and/or protecting school personnel)
  • United States District Court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • United States District Court claims for attorneys' fees and costs

To minimize client costs, the firm's Special Education Practice Group has created an expansive internal library of special education templates including settlement agreements, presentations, manuals, policies, procedures, forms, pleadings, statutory settlement offers, legal opinion letters and memorandums, prehearing conference statements, opening briefs, witness questions and closing briefs.

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 Responding to Parent Requests, Parent Participation, Common Core and Special Education, and the ever-popular Legal Update. 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.

Alyssa R. Bivins Senior Counsel
Sacramento, Fresno abivins@lozanosmith.com
Los Angeles, San Diego acordova@lozanosmith.com
Andrew  Fausto Associate
Los Angeles, Fresno afausto@lozanosmith.com
Eleanor M. Welke Senior Counsel
Joshua  Whiteside Senior Counsel
San Luis Obispo jwhiteside@lozanosmith.com
Walnut Creek, Sacramento, San Diego krezendes@lozanosmith.com
Kendra G. Tovey Senior Counsel
Kyle A. Raney Senior Counsel

Emotional Distress Damages Unavailable in Section 504 Actions

By:Jennifer Baldassari, Amanda Cordova -

May 2022Number 20On April 28, 2022, the United States Supreme Court narrowed the scope of damages available under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504), ruling that emotional distress damages are not recoverable in private actions to enforce Section 504 and other similar Spending Clause antidiscrimination statutes, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Title VI, and Title IX.BackgroundPlaintiff Jane Cummings is deaf, legally blind, and communicates primarily in Americ...

Ninth Circuit Holds that "Specific Learning Disability" Evaluation and IEP Satisfied FAPE for Dyslexic Student

By:Mark Waterman, Kyle Raney, Selina Ayala-Patlán -

February 2022Number 10In Crofts v. Issaquah School District No. 411 (9th Cir. Jan. 12, 2022, No. 19-35473)   F.4th   , the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that a school district properly assessed a student for dyslexia when it conducted an evaluation for a “specific learning disability,” as provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The court said that, under the circumstances, no formal evaluation for dyslexia was r...

Student Not Entitled to Receive Medical ABA Therapy on Campus from Private Provider

By:Sarah Garcia, Roxana Khan, Rebecca Seldin -

February 2022Number 8Although a seven-year-old boy with autism had an established medical need for 40 hours per week of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy, his school district properly denied his private provider from serving him on the public school campus during the school day, according to the December 27, 2021 decision from the United States District Court, Central District of California, in O.A. vs Orcutt Union School District (C.D.Cal. Dec. 27, 2021, 2:20-cv-00087-RGK-MAA).The Dist...

Superior Court Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging the State's Face Mask Mandate in California K-12 Schools

By:Sloan Simmons -

February 2022Number 7On November 12, 2021, San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland ended a lawsuit filed against Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and other California state health officials. The lawsuit was filed by two organizations, Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools. The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged nine causes of action and challenged, among other things, the CDPH’s guidelines and mandate for face coverings in K-12 ...

Legal Challenges to Student Vaccine Mandates Produce Varying Results

By:Sloan Simmons, Alyssa Bivins -

January 2022Number 5Vaccine mandates enacted by and affecting local education agencies have faced various legal challenges, with differing outcomes. Divergent court rulings regarding student vaccine mandates have been issued, often within days of rulings regarding mask mandates, resulting in a changing and sometimes confusing legal landscape. This Client News Brief addresses the legal challenges to student vaccine mandates.LAUSD Student Vaccine Mandate – Los Angeles Superior Court Rulin...

Parentally-Placed Private School Students Are Not Entitled to IEP Unless They Request One

By:Sarah Garcia, Roxana Khan, Karina Demirchyan -

January 2022 Number 4 In a case of first impression, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently ruled that special education students who have been parentally-placed in private school are not entitled to an individualized education plan (IEP) offer from their public school district, unless they request one. (Capistrano Unified School District v. B.W. (9th Cir. Dec. 30, 2021, Nos. 20-55961, 20-55978)     F.4th    .) Although practical reasons rem...

ADA Claim Arising from Alleged Denial of FAPE Requires Exhaustion of Administrative Process

By:Jennifer Baldassari, Bailey Hughes -

January 2022Number 2The recent en banc opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, D.D. v. Los Angeles Unified School District (9th Cir. 2021) 18 F.4th 1043, addresses the issue of whether a plaintiff asserting a claim in federal court under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) must first pursue available administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Applying the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Fry v. Napolean Cmty. ...

Representative Cases

Represented CSBA in the mandated cost reimbursement litigation against the State of California that resulted in a $1 billion settlement in favor of the school districts.
Represented districts in countless due process cases, mediations and numerous appeals to federal District Court, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
G.M. v. Dry Creek Joint Elementary School District, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Case No. 12‐ 17242. In 2014, on appeal, the Ninth Circuit issued an unpublished Memorandum affirming an OAH due process hearing in favor of the District. The Ninth Circuit panel affirmed the U.S. District Court’s grant of summary judgment in the District’s favor on the plaintiff’s section 504 claims, as well as an award of attorneys’ fees sanctions against the parent’s attorney.
F.S.D. v. Santa Barbara Unified School District, U.S.D.C. Central District of California, Case No. 2:13‐cv‐03191‐RGK‐PJW. Received a favorable decision for the district on an appeal of a due process decision, coupled with various civil rights claims under section 1983, section 504 and the ADA. Lozano Smith represented the district successfully during the underlying due process decision and appeal of same, defending OAH’s ruling, which the Court affirmed in full. As a result of that victory and elimination of any remaining viable theories for the plaintiff’s civil rights claims, plaintiff ultimately stipulated to dismissal of the remaining causes of action in the litigation.
Alex G. v. Board of Trustees (E.D. Cal. 2004) 332 F.Supp.2d 1315. Lozano Smith attorneys 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 on alleged violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
Alex G. v. Bd. of Trustees (E.D. Cal. 2005) 387 F.Supp.2d 1119. Lozano Smith 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 Section 504 "must show that the educational decisions relating to the student were so inappropriate as to constitute either bad faith or gross misjudgment."
Huerta v. San Francisco Unified School District (N.D. Cal. 2011). Lozano Smith successfully opposed a parent's appeal of the OAH's denial of a very expensive stay put placement.
J.F. v. Magnolia School District, U.S.D.C. Central District California, Case No. CV14‐01136‐JVS-AJWx. On behalf of the District, Lozano Smith obtained a victory before OAH regarding a student’s placement, which was subsequently appealed to federal district court. Lozano Smith successfully obtained resolution of the matter, through mediation and a written settlement agreement, resulting in the student’s private placement coupled with a waiver of all claims, and certainty for the district going forward.
In the case In re Q.N., Sacramento County Superior Court Juvenile Division, Lozano Smith 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 to which he was referred by the County Mental Health Department, while housed in juvenile hall. Lozano Smith successfully demonstrated that so long as the student remained in juvenile hall, the County Office of Education, and not any individual school district, had responsibility for placement.