Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified School Dist., Nos. 92-16296

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
Writing for the CourtLEAVY
Citation22 F.3d 228
Parties91 Ed. Law Rep. 32, 5 A.D.D. 81 Christopher and Lynn DREHER, on their own behalf and as parents of Kristy Dreher, and Kristy Dreher, a minor child, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. AMPHITHEATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, and C. Diane Bishop, Arizona State Department of Education, in her official capacity, Defendants-Appellees. Christopher and Lynn DREHER, on their own behalf and as parents of Kristy Dreher, and Kristy Dreher, a minor child, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. AMPHITHEATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date21 April 1994
Docket NumberNos. 92-16296,16322

Page 228

22 F.3d 228
91 Ed. Law Rep. 32, 5 A.D.D. 81
Christopher and Lynn DREHER, on their own behalf and as
parents of Kristy Dreher, and Kristy Dreher, a
minor child, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
AMPHITHEATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, and C. Diane Bishop,
Arizona State Department of Education, in her
official capacity, Defendants-Appellees.
Christopher and Lynn DREHER, on their own behalf and as
parents of Kristy Dreher, and Kristy Dreher, a
minor child, Plaintiffs-Appellants,
v.
AMPHITHEATER UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant-Appellant.
Nos. 92-16296, 16322.
United States Court of Appeals,
Ninth Circuit.
Argued and Submitted Nov. 5, 1993.
Decided April 21, 1994.

Page 229

Stephen F. Palevitz, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Tucson, AZ, for plaintiffs-appellants-cross-appellees.

Barry M. Corey and Kristen A. Barrett, Corey & Farrell, Tucson, AZ, for defendants-appellees-cross-appellant.

Page 230

Eva K. Bacal and Mariannina E. Preston, Asst. Attys. Gen., Phoenix, AZ, for defendant-appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Arizona.

Before: ALARCON, LEAVY, and KLEINFELD, Circuit Judges.

Opinion by Judge LEAVY.

LEAVY, Circuit Judge:

In this appeal we are called upon to determine the extent to which a public school district must pay for services related to the education of a handicapped student when those services conflict with an educational program offered by the school district and when the program as offered provides a free appropriate public education. The district court ruled that the school district had no financial responsibility under these circumstances. 797 F.Supp. 753. We affirm.

FACTS AND PRIOR PROCEEDINGS

Kristy Dreher ("Kristy") is profoundly hearing impaired. Her parents want her to learn to speak, believing that if she learns sign language she will become dependant on it and never learn to talk. They have, therefore, enrolled her in a private school which forbids the use of sign language, and where she receives training specifically designed to teach her to lip read and to speak.

Because of Kristy's disability, she qualifies for benefits under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("Act"). 1 Under the Act, the school district in Arizona where she resides must evaluate her and provide her with an Individualized Education Program ("Program"). Amphitheater Unified School District ("Amphitheater") evaluated Kristy and determined that a Program excluding sign language was not working well for her. Thus, the Program for the 1989-90 school year called for "oral methods with augmentative communication," including sign language, lip reading, and oral training.

Kristy's parents appealed the Program through administrative channels. The hearings related to the appeal took place in December 1989 and January 1990. The review officer found that the Program offered a free appropriate public education for Kristy. Before the appeal process was complete, however, Kristy's parents enrolled her at St. Joseph's Institute for the Deaf ("St. Joseph's") in St. Louis, Missouri, where the use of sign language is forbidden.

Subsequent Programs prepared by Amphitheater for 1990-91 and 1991-92 also called for sign language; however, Kristy's parents did not appeal or otherwise challenge those Programs. In September 1990, Kristy's parents asked Amphitheater to reimburse them for the cost of the speech therapy Kristy received at St. Joseph's. Amphitheater refused this request for reimbursement in a letter dated November 26, 1990. Kristy's parents then filed an administrative complaint with the Arizona Department of Education. The Arizona Department of Education issued a letter of finding upholding Amphitheater's refusal to reimburse the Drehers for the costs of Kristy's speech therapy and its refusal to provide a hearing. Shortly thereafter, Kristy and her parents ("Plaintiffs") filed the instant action in federal district court against Amphitheater and C. Diane Bishop, an official with Arizona's Department of Education ("Defendants").

The crux of the Plaintiffs' argument is that Amphitheater should be required to pay for the speech therapy Kristy receives at St. Joseph's. Amphitheater contends that it is not obligated to pay for Kristy's special training at St. Joseph's because that education is contrary to the recommendations set out in the Programs which otherwise provide Kristy with a free appropriate public education. The district court agreed with Amphitheater and entered summary judgment in favor of it and against the Plaintiffs, and further granted Bishop's motion to dismiss. The Plaintiffs have timely appealed.

DISCUSSION

Standard of Review

In this appeal we are essentially reviewing the district court's interpretation and

Page 231

application of federal and, to a lesser extent, state statutory law. We examine such rulings de novo. See Mapes v. United States, 15 F.3d 138, 140 (9th Cir.1994).

Analysis

I

Amphitheater first argues that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(e)(2) 2 because the Plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies available under 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(b)(2) and (c). 3 See Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 326-27, 108 S.Ct. 592, 606, 98 L.Ed.2d 686 (1988) (general prerequisite to obtaining jurisdiction in federal courts to challenge adverse administrative decision is exhaustion of administrative remedies); Hoeft v. Tucson Unified Sch. Dist., 967 F.2d 1298, 1303 (9th Cir.1992) (same). Amphitheater contends that the Plaintiffs must appeal the Programs for 1990-91 and 1991-92 prior to challenging their results in the federal courts.

The Plaintiffs are not appealing the Programs; rather, they are appealing from Amphitheater's refusal to grant them a due process hearing to determine financial responsibility for Kristy's speech therapy at St. Joseph's. After Amphitheater refused them the hearing, the Plaintiffs appealed to Bishop, asking her to overturn Amphitheater's decision. Bishop upheld Amphitheater's refusal to grant a hearing on the limited issue of financial responsibility. As the district court noted, "After plaintiffs were refused a due process hearing, they had no recourse but to seek judicial relief." We conclude that the district court properly found subject matter jurisdiction because the Plaintiffs had exhausted their available administrative remedies regarding the issue of financial responsibility for speech therapy. We need not determine whether Amphitheater erred in refusing to grant Kristy's parents a due process hearing because we conclude that Amphitheater had no financial obligation for services related to Kristy's special education at St. Joseph's.

II

Because the Act does not specify a statute of limitations, we must look to Arizona's statute of limitations applicable to the most closely analogous state cause of action. 4 See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 268, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 1942, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985); Alexopulos v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., 817 F.2d 551, 554-55 (9th Cir.1987). We apply that statute of limitations unless it

Page 232

conflicts with underlying federal policies. County of Oneida v. Oneida Indian Nation, 470 U.S. 226, 240, 105 S.Ct. 1245, 1254, 84 L.Ed.2d 169 (1985). The parties suggest adoption of either of two statutes of limitations: One, applicable to the judicial review of administrative agency rulings, is 35 days, see Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann. Sec. 12-904; 5 while the other, applicable to "liabilit[ies] created by statute, other than a penalty or forfeiture," is one year. See Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann. Sec. 12-541. 6

The Supreme Court of the United States has offered guidance to courts confronted with the question of determining which of various state statutes of limitation to apply. In Wilson v. Garcia, supra, the Court stated

[W]e must ... decide whether all [claims under the statute] should be characterized in the same way, or whether they should be evaluated differently depending upon the varying factual circumstances and legal theories presented in each individual case. Finally, we must characterize the essence of the claim in the pending case, and decide which state statute provides the most appropriate limiting principle.

471 U.S. at 268, 105 S.Ct. at 1942. 7

Although under other circumstances the Arizona statute of limitations for reviewing agency decisions might apply, we conclude under these circumstances that the 35-day statute of limitations is not the more appropriate limiting principle. The Plaintiffs were not granted a due process hearing, so their action is not analogous to an appeal of a final administrative decision. Moreover, a longer statute of limitations in this case is consistent with federal policies. Admittedly, Congress stated that it desired reviews to be quick in order to keep pace with the changing educational needs of school children. 8 However, Kristy's education is not threatened by the duration of this claim for reimbursement, and the federal policy requiring swift resolution does not apply. Accordingly, we hold that the appropriate statute of limitations is the one-year period permitted for "liabilities...

To continue reading

Request your trial
25 practice notes
  • Eads ex rel. Eads v. Unified Sch. Dist. No. 289, No. 00-4010-SAC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • January 4, 2002
    ...claim." Witte v. Clark County School Dist., 197 F.3d 1271, 1274 (9th Cir.1999) (citing Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified School Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th A court lacking subject matter jurisdiction must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceeding in which it becomes apparent that juris......
  • Dell v. Board of Educ., Tp. High School Dist. 113, No. 93-1206
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 9, 1994
    ...limitation for personal injuries to issue of entitlement to compensatory educational services); Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 232 (9th Cir.1994) (applying one-year period for statutory liabilities other than penalty or forfeiture to issue of school district's refus......
  • CB v. SONORA SCHOOL DIST., No. CV-F-09-285 OWW/DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 22, 2009
    ...as jurisdictional in nature. See Robb v. Bethel Sch. Dist. # 403, 308 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2002), Dreher v. Amphitheater Unif. Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th Federal subject matter jurisdiction must exist at the time an action is commenced. See Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Californi......
  • Everett H. v. Dry Creek Joint Elementary Sch. Dist., No. 2:13–cv–00889–MCE–DAD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 20, 2014
    ...(9th Cir.2005); Witte v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 197 F.3d 1271, 1274 (9th Cir.1999); and Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th Cir.1994) are cited in that regard. 6. While the Payne court recognized that dismissal on non-jurisdictional grounds can be sought by wa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
25 cases
  • Eads ex rel. Eads v. Unified Sch. Dist. No. 289, No. 00-4010-SAC.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • January 4, 2002
    ...claim." Witte v. Clark County School Dist., 197 F.3d 1271, 1274 (9th Cir.1999) (citing Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified School Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th A court lacking subject matter jurisdiction must dismiss the cause at any stage of the proceeding in which it becomes apparent that juris......
  • Dell v. Board of Educ., Tp. High School Dist. 113, No. 93-1206
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • August 9, 1994
    ...limitation for personal injuries to issue of entitlement to compensatory educational services); Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 232 (9th Cir.1994) (applying one-year period for statutory liabilities other than penalty or forfeiture to issue of school district's refus......
  • CB v. SONORA SCHOOL DIST., No. CV-F-09-285 OWW/DLB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • September 22, 2009
    ...as jurisdictional in nature. See Robb v. Bethel Sch. Dist. # 403, 308 F.3d 1047 (9th Cir. 2002), Dreher v. Amphitheater Unif. Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th Federal subject matter jurisdiction must exist at the time an action is commenced. See Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Californi......
  • Everett H. v. Dry Creek Joint Elementary Sch. Dist., No. 2:13–cv–00889–MCE–DAD.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • March 20, 2014
    ...(9th Cir.2005); Witte v. Clark County Sch. Dist., 197 F.3d 1271, 1274 (9th Cir.1999); and Dreher v. Amphitheater Unified Sch. Dist., 22 F.3d 228, 231 (9th Cir.1994) are cited in that regard. 6. While the Payne court recognized that dismissal on non-jurisdictional grounds can be sought by wa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT