Section 1983 and IDEA (Payne v. Peninsula School District)

Whoa.  Some cases speak for themselves.  In a split panel opinion, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals held that exhaustion was required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when a teacher locked an autistic student in a closet.  After the autistic child crapped and pissed himself, some whack-job school teacher claimed, "Locking autistic children up is how we educate them."  The Ninth Circuit - two judges, anyway - bought that argument.  Payne v. Peninsula School District (CA9) (here).

Judge Noonan, dissenting, clearly gets the best of the argument.  In a sentence: Just because something happens at school to an autistic child doesn't mean the IDEA applies.

This case needs to be reheard en banc.  At least some judge needs to give the case briefs a look.  Why does the opinion mention Section 1983 and IDEA causes of action when the panel dismisses the case under the IDEA?

My knowledge is fuzzy, but isn't Blanchard v. Morton School District (CA9) still good law?  Under Blanchard, IDEA rights are not enforceable under Section 1983.  Assuming that's the case, why didn't the panel discuss the separate causes of action under Section 1983?

Someone help me out.  Is Blanchard still good law?  Or is a Section 1983 action now merged with an IDEA cause of action  (not a rhetorical question; help me out)?  Even if the causes of action have been merged, the student has a separate cause of action for the lock-up.

If an autistic kid were sexually assaulted by a school teacher, he'd be able to sue under substantive due process/Section 1983.  If an an autistic child was denied food or medicine, he'd be able to sue under Section 1983.  In Payne, an autistic kid was locked in a closet - euphemistically called a "safe room, a roughly 5′ x 6′ roomlocated within the special education classroom."  Locking a child up on a closet is conscience-shocking behavior, and therefore is actionable under Section 1983.

This case desperately needs reheard.  And I say this as a major critic of the IDEA.  The IDEA is a way for rich parents to scam school systems out of money.  Even a critic of the IDEA can see the problem with allowing teachers to hide behind the IDEA when they make conscience-shocking decisions like locking a seven-year-old child up.

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