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Professional Practice

The Legal Meaning of Specific Learning Disability for IDEA Eligibility: The Latest Case Law

By Perry A. Zirkel

Specific learning disability (SLD), although moderately declining in recent years, continues to be the largest of the eligibility classifications under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA; NCES, 2012). The recognition of response to intervention (RTI) in the 2004 amendments of the IDEA as an approach for identifying students with SLD has generated successive changes in the 2006 IDEA regulations and in subsequent state laws (e.g., Zirkel & Thomas, 2010a, 2010b). RTI has also been a continuing subject of contention (e.g., Hale et al. 2010) and confusion (e.g., Zirkel, 2011b, 2012c). Corresponding to these developments, what has been the recent trend in litigation?

Prior to the effective date of the 2006 regulations, a monograph provided a systematic analysis of the 25 years of prior case law—both at the hearing/review officer and court levels—concerning SLD eligibility (Zirkel, 2006). The major findings included that (a) the total amounted to approximately 90 pertinent cases from 1980 to 2006, with about four fifths at the hearing/review officer level; (b) the frequency of the decisions rose gradually during this period to an annual average of approximately seven during the last 6 years, with the majority arising in California (n = 20), Pennsylvania (n = 15), and New York (n = 11); and (c) school districts, typically defending the position that the child was not eligible as SLD, won approximately 80% of the cases, with the most frequent decisional factors being severe discrepancy (n = 68) or the need for special education (n = 31).

An update limited to the subsequent 3.5-year period (Zirkel, 2010) found 18 decisions concerning SLD eligibility. The findings were preliminary based on the limited period. The proportion of court decisions doubled to approximately two fifths of the cases. Continuing the previous trend, California accounted for more of the decisions than any other state (n = 7), with Pennsylvania remaining in second place (n = 3). The outcome trend increased even more in favor of districts; the parents prevailed in establishing the child's eligibility in only one of the 18 cases. The primary decisional factors were severe discrepancy and, to only a slightly less frequent extent, the need for special education. Conversely, RTI was conspicuous in its absence, surfacing in just two decisions and then in only a negligible role.

The purpose of this analysis is to extend the previous, preliminary update to cover a fuller, 6-year period and, thus, provide a more accurate picture of the recent trends in relation to the prior 25-year analysis. The specific questions include:

  • Have the upward slope and California and hearing/review officer predominance in frequency of decisions continued?
  • Has the trend of district-friendly outcomes changed?
  • Has RTI become a major decisional factor in these cases?


As in the predecessor publications, the coverage was not limited to officially published decisions. More specifically, the primary database was the Individuals with Disabilities Law Reporter (IDELR), which is the most comprehensive publication of hearing/review officer and court decisions under IDEA. For court decisions, the Westlaw database served as a supplemental database to assure that the identification of the relevant cases was complete and to ascertain the citations of any officially published cases. The cases were limited to hearing/review officer and court cases that specifically decided whether a student, upon initial evaluation or upon reevaluation, qualified for special special education services under the IDEA classification of SLD. Rulings as to other legal claims within the same case were not part of the tabulation. Although generally more fuzzy than bright lines, the boundaries for selection led to exclusion of SLD cases concerning overlapping issues, such as child find (e.g., Cobb County School District, 2012; Daniel P. v. Downingtown Area School District, 2011), independent educational evaluation (IEE; e.g., Bolick v. Council Rock Area School District, 2011), and free appropriate public education (FAPE; e.g., J.D. v. Crown Point School District, 2012) when they seemed to be separable from eligibility. Conversely, the following marginal cases in these overlapping areas appeared, on balance, to warrant inclusion: child find (Ridley School District v. M.R. [2011] and S. v. Wissahickon School District [2008]) and FAPE (M.M. v. Lafayette School District [2012]).


Table 1 presents the pertinent decisions in chronological order, and includes both hearing or review officer decisions (denoted by the acronym SEA) and court decisions (in bold font). Per the model of the predecessor analyses (Zirkel, 2006, 2010), the decisional factors track the basic components of the criteria for SLD eligibility in the prior IDEA regulations (1999):

  • Disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes.
  • Disorder-related exclusions (e.g., learning problems primarily the result of other IDEA classifications).
  • Discrepancy A: achievement not commensurate with age or ability (i.e., general) after appropriate instruction in general education.
  • Discrepancy B: severe discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in one or more of specifically enumerated areas.
  • Discrepancy-related exclusions A: same as those above under disorder-related exclusions but in the context of the primary reason for the discrepancy.
  • Discrepancy-related exclusion B: converse of prerequisite in Discrepancy A, (i.e., lack of proper instruction as the primary reason for the discrepancy).

Table 1. Recent Hearing/Review Officer and Court Decisions Concerning SLD Eligibility

Abbreviated case name (Forum and Date)OutcomeDisorderDisorder-related exclusionDiscrepancyDiscrepancy-related exclusionsNeed for special education
Centennial Sch. Dist. (Pa. SeA 2006)SNo21
Elk Grove (Cal. SeA 2006)SNo2a1
Jaffess (E.D. Pa. 2006)SNo11
High Techb (Cal. SEA 2007)SNo211
Hood (9th Cir. 2007)SNo1a1
Jefferson Cnty. (Ala. SeA 2007)SNo12
S. v. Wissahickon (E.D. Pa. 2008)SNo1
M.P. (C.D. Cal. 2008)PYes11
Victor (Cal. SeA 2008)SNo21
W.H. (E.D. Cal. 2009)SNo1
Chase (d. Colo. 2009)SNo12
Austin (Tex. SeA 2009)SNo1
Anchorage (Alaska SeA 2010)SNo2*1
Nguyen (D.D.C. 2010)SNo1
Breanne C. (M.D. Pa. 2010)PYes2
M.B.c (D.N.J. 2010)pYes1
Joshua Indep. Sch. Dist.d (Tex. SeA 2010)SNo1
Mrs. H. (M.D. Ala. 2011)SNo12
Ridley Sch. Dist. (E.D. Pa. 2011)SNo1
Lauderdale Cnty. (Ala. SeA 2011) SNo11
Michael P.d (9th Cir. 2011)pprobably??
H.M.c (D.N.J. 2011)SNo11
M.M.b (N.D. Cal. 2012)SYes22
Scot S. (D. Hawaii 2012)SNo11
C.M. (9th Cir 2012)SNo1
E.M.c (E.D. Cal. 2012)SNo21
Note. SLD = specific learning disability; bold font = court decision; SEA = state education agency—here, hearing/review officer decision; S = decision in favor of school district; P = decision in favor of parent; 1 = primary factor in eligibility ruling; 2 = secondary factor in eligibility ruling; 2* = secondary factor in opposite direction to ultimate eligibility ruling.
a The correctability standard in California's state law criteria for SLD, which overlaps with the federal commensurate achievement factor and/or the overall special education need factor, played a role in this decision.
b RTI served only as a peripheral consideration.
c Subsequent, superseding decision in case previously reported in Zirkel (2010).
d RTI served as a major decisional consideration.

The reasons for using these criteria for the framework are that: (a) several of the cases arose prior to the effective date of these regulations; (b) the 2006 regulations preserved the disorder criterion (§ 300.8[c][10][i]), an approximation of the commensurate achievement criterion (§§ 300.309[a][1] and 300.309[a][2]), the enumerated areas, along with the addition of reading fluency (§ 300.309[a][1]), the exclusions (§§ 300.6[b][1], 300.8[c][10][ii], and 300.309[a][3]), and the authorization of state law criteria (§ 300.307[a]); and (c) many states that permit severe discrepancy continued to base their criteria on this 1999 template.

The component columns also include the second prong of eligibility, which is common to all of the IDEA classifications: “by reason thereof, needs special education and related services” (IDEA regulations, § 300.8(b)(2)). The entries include the outcome of the most recent decision concerning eligibility, including whether it was in favor of the school district (S) or the parents (P), and the basis of the eligibility decision in terms of whether the criterion was a major or secondary factor in the written rationale. Finally, if a case proceeded to more than one level of published adjudication under the IDEA, such as a hearing officer and then court appeal, the tabulation was limited to the highest and most recent decision.


Examination of Table 1 reveals several notable findings. They are reported in the sequence of the aforementioned questions, with supplemental information from the written opinions of the cases in the table.

General trends. First, the frequency of decisions averaged approximately four per year. California continued to be the leading jurisdiction, accounting for 8 of the 26 decisions in this period, with almost half of the rest attributable to Pennsylvania (n = 4), Hawaii (n = 2) and New Jersey (n = 2). The proportion of the decisions at the court, as compared to the hearing/review officer, level was 59%. Of these 26 decisions, 3 are subsequent stages in prior cases, thus superseding the prior decisions; two affirmed, and one reversed, the original eligibility ruling.

Trends in outcomes. Of the latest 26 decisions, 22 (85%) were in favor of school districts. Although the typical posture of the case was a district determination that the child was not eligible as SLD, the eligibility outcomes warrant the following clarifications in relation to this outcomes ratio: (a) in the marginally relevant case of M.M. v. Lafayette School District (2012), the evaluation team determined that the child was eligible as SLD but the parents unsuccessfully challenged the adequacy of the evaluation as part of its FAPE claim; (b) in W.H. v. Clovis Unified School District (2009), the court alternatively concluded that the child was eligible under the classification of other health impairment (OHI); and (c) as explained in an earlier Communiqué article (Zirkel, 2012d), the appellate court in Michael P. v. Department of Education, State of Hawaii (2011) sent the case back to the federal district court (which in turn did so to the hearing officer) for a definitive determination of the child's eligibility without sole reliance on the severe discrepancy model, and the ruling—which at least inconclusively favored the parent—was not generalizable beyond Hawaii. Indeed, its legal effect in Hawaii is unclear, as evidenced by the same federal district court's subsequent decision that cited Michael P. while upholding a determination of noneligibility based on severe discrepancy (Scot S. v. State of Hawaii Department of Education, 2012).

For the relatively few remaining cases in favor of the parents, the reasons were varied rather than establishing a pattern. In M.P. v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (2008), the court disagreed with the hearing officer's findings as to the severe discrepancy and educational need criteria, concluding that the private psychologist's opinion on these two issues was entitled to persuasive weight because the testimony of the school psychologist and teachers tended to confirm rather than contradict his interpretations. In Breanne v. Southern York County School District (2010) the ruling, arising when the district exited the child from special education, was rather tangential to the primary issue, which was FAPE. In agreeing that the district's successive IEPs were not reasonably calculated to provide the child with education benefit, the court deferred to the hearing and review officers' findings that the exiting evaluation was not—and the opposing IEE was—appropriate without separately addressing the requisite SLD criteria. Finally, in reversing the hearing officer's previously reported (Zirkel, 2010) decision, the court in M.B. v. South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (2010) relied on the burden of persuasion being on the district and the general multiple-measure criterion for eligibility evaluations. Both conclusions are subject to question. In putting the burden of persuasion on the district in the absence of applicable state law, the court cited an unpublished court decision on child find but missed the higher weight of a contrary published decision specific to eligibility (Antoine M. v. Chester Upland School District, 2006) in the Third Circuit. Similarly but not as strongly, the court concluded that the district solely relied for the severe discrepancy criterion on the results of a computerized estimator analysis, but the hearing officer found that the district had considered other evidence, including the child's classroom performance, and the court implicitly recognized this additional consideration by interpreting the classroom performance evidence contrary to the hearing officer.

Has RTI become a major decisional factor? These cases provide negligible guidance regarding RTI. Instead, most of the cases were based on the traditional severe discrepancy approach. In a few cases, RTI emerged but largely only as a peripheral consideration: (a) in California, a permissive rather than mandatory RTI state, the hearing officer in the relatively early case of High Tech Middle Media Arts School (2007), after determining that the student was not eligible under the severe discrepancy and educational need criteria, commented—with obvious confusion and contradiction— that although the district did not attempt any research-based interventions with the student, “if RTI is the required method for determining SLD, Student does not qualify as a child with an SLD based on the RTI method” (p. 500); (b) in the subsequently reversed and, thus, superseded South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education (2009) decision, the hearing officer peripherally and mistakenly had associated the district's computerized estimator software program with the IDEA's “scientific, research-based” reference to RTI; and (c) in the ancillary rulings to the FAPE focus of M.M. v. Lafayette School District (2012), the court not only upheld the district's evaluation, which was based on severe discrepancy and which determined the child to be eligible as SLD, but also concluded that the district did not have to share its RTI data with the parents or even use these data as part of its evaluation, because the relevant IDEA requirements only apply where the district's SLD identification model is RTI.

Moreover, the two cases where RTI was a major factor were narrowly limited for several reasons. First, Joshua Independent School District (2010) was at the hearing officer level, which is of negligible precedential value. Second, it's not entirely clear that the hearing officer's reference to—and thus, the case's categorization under—RTI is correct. In Texas, RTI is permitted rather than required, and the district's “problemsolving team” may have been merely its process for general education interventions, which is distinguishable from RTI (Zirkel, 2011b). Third, even if the district claimed that its process was RTI, the hearing officer did not specifically examine the details and assess the defensibility of its approach in terms of the applicable criteria for RTI. Instead, his single relevant factual finding was that “[the district's evaluation] did indicate that the student had a weakness in reading fluency but was not eligible as learning disabled because of progress through RTI” (p. 463). His discussion and legal conclusions amounted to less than a third of a page, without citation to and application of any case law or regulations specific to RTI, merely echoing that “the district demonstrated that it determined that RTI could be successful for the student and that the student's progress indicated the RTI process was successful for the student” (p. 464). Similarly but even more markedly narrow, the aforementioned Michael P. decision (2011) is sui generis, arising in the only state that consists of a single school district, thus not squaring with the IDEA choice of approaches for SLD identification when in opting at the state level and adopting at the district level the severe discrepancy method, it effectively violated the requirement to allow RTI.

Other findings relevant to school psychologists. Other findings were of more particular interest to school psychologists. The aforementioned decision in M.M. v. Lafayette School District (2012) contained two such separate rulings: (a) the district's use of a duly credentialed intern school psychologist for the evaluation did not violate the California state law requirement for a “credentialed school psychologist” because that same law permits such credentialed interns to conduct psychoeducational assessments for IDEA eligibility and an experienced school psychologist supervised her work; and (b) where the parents are entitled to reimbursement for an IEE, this entitlement applies to the cost of not only the IEE but also, where the private evaluator does so, the presentation of the results to the IEP team. More generally, the case law has not been rigorous about the first criterion for SLD eligibility, a disorder in one of the basic psychological processes, either cursorily accepting for this purpose various diagnoses, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (M.P. v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, 2008; W.H. v. Clovis Unified School District, 2009) or visual processing disorder (High Tech Middle Media Arts School, 2007), or skipping this step altogether. Finally, the two major decisional factors for SLD eligibility have been severe discrepancy (n = 15) and the need for special education (n = 15).


The average of approximately four decisions per year for this 6-year period, with the understanding that an early 2006 decision was included in the Zirkel (2006) monograph and that this updating tabulation ended—given the time lag in reporting the case law—with approximately 7 months year for 2012 decisions, represented at least a moderate downturn from the previous upward trend, which culminated in an average of seven per year for the 6-year period 2000–2005. Perhaps this lowered level is due to the reduction in the number of students identified with SLD (NCES, 2012). On the other hand, it is too early to attribute it to the role of RTI.

The distribution of decisions on a state-by-state basis largely parallels the extent of IDEA litigation activity generally, with California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and—in recent years—Hawaii being among the top ten states in due process hearings (e.g., Data Accountability Center, 2012; Zirkel, 2012a; Zirkel & Gischlar, 2008). The correlation is far from perfect. For example, the leading jurisdictions for IDEA litigation—the District of Columbia and New York—have respectively accounted for none and one of these 26 decisions. Other contributing factors may include state-specific legal developments, such as (a) California law's SLD eligibility standards, which previously required that the severe discrepancy “cannot be corrected through other regular or categorical services offered within the regular instructional program” and currently requires that it “cannot be corrected without special education and related services,” and (b) case law in California concerning the role of IQ tests in determining the eligibility status of minority students (e.g., Larry P. v. Riles, 1979/1986/1994).

The proportion of court—as compared with hearing and review officer—decisions during this most recent period, which came close to 60%, was three times the percentage during the prior 25-year period. This difference is in line with the gradual legalization of special education (Zirkel, Karanxha, & D'Angelo, 2007), but it runs counter to the marked trend of courts to defer to hearing and review officer decisions (Zirkel, 2012b). Perhaps the parties, in their increasingly litigious efforts to make a “federal case” of special education law issues (Zirkel & Johnson, 2011), have not received accurate empirical advice from their attorneys as to the odds of judicial appeals of hearing or review officer decisions.

The superseding decisions in three cases reflect the organic nature of law and the ponderous process of the IDEA's multilevel adjudicatory process. Moreover, the reversed decision in one of these three cases shows that reasonable, impartial individuals— here, hearing/review officers and judges—may differ on applying IDEA's rather broad standards to individual cases.

The district-friendly trend of the outcomes, typically arising in the wake of determining that the child was, upon the initial evaluation or the reevaluation, not eligible as SLD, is a continuation of the trend during the previous 25 years. More specifically, the rate of 85% in favor of districts is slightly higher than the 81% for the previous period (Zirkel, 2006). This district-favorable trend is more pronounced than the overall trend in IDEA litigation (e.g., Zirkel & D'Angelo, 2002), perhaps due to the methodological nature of SLD identification; the landmark decision in Board of Education v. Rowley (1982) accorded discretion to school authorities for “questions of methodology” (p. 208).

The limited role of RTI in the latest SLD eligibility decisions is anticlimactic in light of the extensive literature concerning this continuing controversy, currently including the implementation of RTI (e.g., Castillo & Batsche, 2012; Fuchs, Fuchs, & Stecker, 2010) and the role of cognitive assessment (e.g., Hale et al., 2010; NCLD, 2011). As shown elsewhere in more detail, RTI has been the subject of confusion in both legal commentary (e.g., Zirkel, 2011b) and case law (e.g., Zirkel, 2011a). The confusion in the commentary—and in practice—is between RTI and general education interventions, which preceded RTI and which do not systematically meet all the core characteristics of RTI. The confusion in the case law extends beyond these decisions. For example, three hearing officer decisions where RTI was a major decisional factor concerned eligibility under classifications other than SLD, such as hearing impairment or OHI (Citrus County School District, 2010; Delaware College Preparatory Academy, 2009; Meridian School District No. 223, 2010).

The lack of frequent and rigorous adjudication of RTI in its circumscribed IDEA context of SLD identification is likely attributable to (a) the relative recency of widespread implementation, including the time lag between the 2006 regulations and the implementation deadlines in the mandatory states; (b) the time lag in the adjudicative process, especially for the issuance and publication of judicial decisions; (c) the delays in replacing confusion with sophistication, particularly for but not at all limited to parent attorneys, with regard to the nuances of RTI; and (d) the pervasive deference trend among hearing/review officers and courts for school authorities for methodology- related issues.

Finally, the final itemization of findings of special interest to school psychologists show not only the wide variety of relevant rulings but also the general deference in the case law to district personnel, including the key role of school psychologists in eligibility determinations. For example, in its final decision in E.M. v. Pajaro Valley Unified School District (2012), the federal district court reached the same outcome after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals nullified its original SLD eligibility ruling for failing to consider the private evaluator's findings of a severe discrepancy. In doing so, the court found that the hearing officer's ruling, which deferred to the school psychologist's findings, outweighed those of the private psychologist whom the parents had hired. Thus, for IDEA eligibility the case law accords professional discretion to the school psychologist's critical position in collecting, analyzing, and interpreting multiple sources of data to help the team determine (a) whether the child has a severe discrepancy, and ultimately, regardless of the approach and extedning beyond the SLD classification, (b) whether the child needs special education.


Anchorage Sch. Dist., 54 IDELR ¶ 67 (Alaska SEA 2010).

Antoine M. v. Chester Upland Sch. Dist., 420 F. Supp. 2d 396 (E.D. Pa. 2006).

Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 53 IDELR ¶ 310 (Tex. SEA 2009).

Bd. of Educ. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).

Bolick v. Council Rock Sch. Dist., 54 IDELR ¶ 326 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2011).

Breanne C. v. S. York Cnty. Sch. Dist., 732 F. Supp. 2d 474 (M.D. Pa. 2010).

Castillo, J. M., & Barsche, G. M., (2010). Scaling up response to intervention: The influence of policy and research and the role of program evaluation. Communiqué, 40(8), 14–16. Centennial Sch. Dist., 46 IDELR ¶ 55 (Pa. SEA 2006).

Chase v. Mesa Cnty. Sch. Dist. No. 51, 53 IDELR ¶ 72 (D. Colo. 2009).

Citrus Cnty. Sch. Dist., 54 IDELR ¶ 40 (Fla. SEA 2009).

C. M. v. Dep't of Educ., State of Hawaii, 476 F. App'x 674 (9th Cir. 2012).

Cobb Cnty. Sch. Dist., 58 IDELR ¶ 180 (Ga. SEA 2012).

Daniel P. v. Downingtown Area Sch. Dist., 57 IDELR ¶ 224 (E.D. Pa. 2011).

Data Accountability Center. (2012). Part B dispute resolution (2010–2011): Table B7-3, Retrieved from https://www.ideadata.org/arc_toc13.asp#partbCC

Delaware Coll. Preparatory Acad., 53 IDELR ¶ 135 (Del. SEA 2009).

Elk Grove Unified Sch. Dist., 46 IDELR ¶ 56 (Cal. SEA 2006).

E. M. v. Pajaro Valley Unified Sch. Dist., 58 IDELR ¶ 187 (E.D. Cal. 2012).

Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S., & Stecker, P. M. (2010). The “blurring” of special education in a new continuum of general education placements and services. Exceptional Children, 76, 301–323.

Hale, J., Alfonso, V., Berninger, V., Bracken, B., Christo, C., Clark, E., … Yalof, J. (2010). Critical issues in response-to-intervention, comprehensive evaluation, and specific learning disabilities identification and intervention: An expert white paper consensus. Learning Disability Quarterly, 33, 223–236.

High Tech Middle Media Arts Sch., 47 IDELR ¶ 114 (Cal. SEA 2007).

H. M. v. Haddon Heights Sch. Dist., 822 F. Supp. 2d 439 (D.N.J. 2011).

Hood v. Encinitas Union Sch. Dist., 486 F.3d 1099 (9th Cir. 2007).

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations (former). (1999, March 12). Federal Register, 64, 12,405–12,672.

IDEA regulations (current), 34 C.F.R. Part 300 (2011).

Jaffess v. Council Rock Sch. Dist., 46 IDELR ¶ 246 (E.D. Pa. 2006).

J. D. v. Crown Point Sch. Dist., 58 IDELR ¶ 125 (N.D. Ind. 2012).

Jefferson Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 49 IDELR ¶ 57 (Ala. SEA 2007).

Joshua Indep. Sch. Dist., 56 IDELR ¶ 88 (Tex. SEA 2010).

Larry P. v. Riles, 495 F. Supp. 926 (N.D. Cal. 1979), aff'd in part, rev'd in part, 793 F.2d 969 (9th Cir. 1986), further ruling sub nom. Crawford v. Honig, 37 F.3d 485 (9th Cir. 1994).

Lauderdale Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 57 IDELR ¶ 175 (Ala. SEA 2011).

M. B. v. S. Orange-Maplewood Bd. of Educ., 2010 WL 3035494 (D.N.J. 2010), stay denied, 56 IDELR ¶ 171 (D.N.J. 2011).

Meridian Sch. Dist. No. 223, 56 IDELR ¶ 30 (Ill. SEA 2010).

Michael P. v. Dep't of Educ., State of Hawaii, 656 F.3d 1057 (9th Cir. 2011), remanded sub nom. Elizabeth G. v. Dep't of Educ., State of Hawaii, 58 IDELR ¶ 68 (D. Hawaii 2012).

M. M. v. Lafayette Sch. Dist., 58 IDELR ¶ 132 (N.D. Cal. 2012).

M. P. v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified Sch. Dist., 633 F. Supp. 2d 1089 (C.D. Cal. 2008).

Ms. H. v. Montgomery Cnty. Bd. of Educ., 56 IDELR ¶ 73 (M.D. Ala. 2011), further proceedings, on other grounds 784 F. Supp. 2d 1247 (M.D. Ala. 2011).

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). (2012). Fast facts: Students with disabilities. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=64

Nguyen v. Dist. of Columbia, 681 F. Supp. 2d 49 (D.D.C. 2010).

Ridley Sch. Dist. v. M.R., 56 IDELR ¶ 74 (E.D. Pa. 2011), aff'd on other grounds, 680 F.3d 260 (3d Cir. 2012).

Scot S. v. State of Hawaii Dep't of Educ., 58 IDELR ¶ 73 (D. Hawaii 2012).

S. v. Wissahickon Sch. Dist., 50 IDELR ¶ 216 (E.D. Pa. 2008), aff'd on other grounds sub nom. Richard S. v. Wissahickon Sch. Dist., 334 F. App'x 508 (3d Cir. 2009).

Victor Elementary Sch. Dist., 50 IDELR ¶ 204 (Cal. SEA 2008).

W. H. v. Clovis Unified Sch. Dist., 52 IDELR ¶ 258 (E.D. Cal. 2009), stay denied, 53 IDELR ¶ 121 (Cal. SEA 2009).

Zirkel, P. A. (2006). The legal meaning of specific learning disability for special education eligibility. Arlington, VA: Council on Exceptional Children.

Zirkel, P. A. (2010). Case law update: The legal meaning of specific learning disability for special education eligibility. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(5), 62–67.

Zirkel, P. A. (2011a). RTI and the law. West's Education Law Reporter, 268, 1–16.

Zirkel, P. A. (2011b). RTI confusion in the case law and legal commentary. Learning Disability Quarterly, 34(4), 242–247.

Zirkel, P. A. (2012a). Case law under the IDEA: 1998 to present. In IDEA: A handy desk reference to the legislation, regulations, and indicators. Albany, NY: LexisNexis.

Zirkel, P. A. (2012b). Judicial appeals of hearing/ review officer decisions under the IDEA. Exceptional Children, 78(3), 375–384.

Zirkel, P. A. (2012c). The legal dimension of RTI: Confusion confirmed. Learning Disability Quarterly, 35(2), 72–75.

Zirkel, P. A. (2012d). The Ninth Circuit's recent ruling: RTI? Communiqué, 40(4), 26–27.

Zirkel, P. A., & D'Angelo, A. (2002). Special education case law: An empirical trends analysis. West's Education Law Reporter, 161, 731–753.

Zirkel, P. A., & Gischlar, K. (2008). Due process hearings under the IDEA: A longitudinal frequency analysis. Journal of Special Education Leadership, 21(1), 22–31.

Zirkel, P., & Johnson, B. L. (2011). The “explosion” in education litigation: An update. West's Education Law Reporter, 265, 1–8.

Zirkel, P. A., Karanxha, Z., & D'Angelo, A. (2007). Creeping judicialization of special education hearings: An exploratory study. Journal of the National Association of Administrative Law Judiciary, 27, 27–51.

Zirkel, P. A., & Thomas, L. B. (2010a). State laws and guidelines for implementing RTI. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(1), 62–73.

Zirkel, P. A., & Thomas, L. B. (2010b). State laws for RTI: An updated snapshot. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(3), 56–63.

Perry A. Zirkel is a university professor of education and law at Leigh University.