KP v. Juzwic

Decision Date19 June 1995
Docket NumberCiv. No. 3:93CV01845 (AHN).
Citation891 F. Supp. 703
PartiesK.P. v. Walter W. JUZWIC, Superintendent Norwich Public Schools and Norwich Board of Education.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Connecticut

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Anne Louise Blanchard, Douglas M. Crockett, Connecticut Legal Services, Willimantic, CT, Catherine E. Cushman, State of Connecticut, for Persons With Disabilities, Hartford, CT, Catherine L. Williams, Connecticut Legal Services, Inc., Bridgeport, CT, for plaintiff.

Linda L. Yoder, Shipman & Goodwin, Mark J. Sommaruga, Michael Peter McKeon, Sullivan, Lettick & Schoen, Hartford, CT, for defendants.

NEVAS, District Judge.

After review and over objection, the Magistrate Judge's Recommended Ruling is approved, adopted and ratified. SO ORDERED.

RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION AND MODIFIED RULING ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION

FITZSIMMONS, United States Magistrate Judge.

This is an action for compensatory education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA")1, against the Norwich Board of Education (the "Board") and the Superintendent of the Norwich Public Schools.2 K.P., the plaintiff, is a twenty-one-year-old with severe emotional disabilities whose claim that defendants deprived him of his rights to a free appropriate education while he was between 8 and 19 years old was never determined on its merits by the state hearing officer. K.P. is appealing the state hearing officer's dismissal of his request for a hearing for lack of jurisdiction on a finding that the request was untimely.3

Currently pending is a motion for reconsideration of this Court's ruling granting plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction.4 For the reasons stated below, the Court GRANTS the Motion for Reconsideration. After reconsideration, the court AFFIRMS its earlier ruling on plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction Doc. # 6, with modifications to the analysis in light of subsequently decided case law.

ISSUES PRESENTED

In determining whether the plaintiff was entitled to a preliminary injunction, this Court initially considered the plain language of the IDEA, the appropriate standard for measuring the timeliness of a request for a due process hearing, and the availability of compensatory education as a remedy for a denial of appropriate education. The record of the proceedings before the state hearing officer was filed with the Court and reviewed. Two witnesses testified for the plaintiff, at a hearing on the preliminary injunction held October 6, 1993, and one witness for the defendants. Memoranda and proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law were submitted by both parties. A Recommended Ruling granting the preliminary injunction was filed on December 23, 1993 Doc. # 27, to which the parties had an opportunity to respond and object. On reconsideration, the Court has also considered the issues raised by the amici curiae.

BACKGROUND

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") requires states, as a condition of accepting federal funding, to provide "a free and appropriate public education" to all children with disabilities.5 Congress' express purpose in enacting the Act was to

assure that all children with disabilities have available to them ... a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs, to assure that the rights of children with disabilities and their parents or guardians are protected ... and to assess and assure the effectiveness of efforts to educate children with disabilities.6

To determine the appropriate education for each child, an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") is created. This is a comprehensive written statement of the educational needs of a child, containing the specialized instruction and related services designed to meet this child's unique needs. The Act mandates that IEPs be developed in meetings between the child's teacher, a representative of the local educational agency, the parents of the child, and the child, if possible, and reviewed at least annually.7

Under Connecticut law, when a child is initially identified as learning disabled, a Planning and Placement Team ("PPT") meeting is convened to develop an IEP for that child.8 Subsequent developments or modifications in a child's IEP may be raised at any time by the parents, provided that a request for review is made to the school board and that the child's educational performance indicates the need for such review.9

If a local or regional board of education determines that a child's special education needs cannot be met by a program provided within the district or by agreement with another board of education, the board may meet its obligation to provide special education by paying the cost of special education instruction in a private school, hospital or institution.10 When a child who requires special education is placed in a residential facility by a public agency, the local board of education shall "provide the requisite identification and evaluation" of the child in accordance with § 10-76a et seq. and "be financially responsible for the reasonable costs" of the child's special education instruction.11 The costs for services other than educational are paid by the state agency that places the child.12

To accomplish the Act's goal of providing children with learning disabilities a free and appropriate public education, the Act provides "various procedural safeguards that guarantee parents both an opportunity for meaningful input into all decisions affecting their child's education and the right to seek review of any decisions they think appropriate." Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311-312, 108 S.Ct. 592, 597-598, 98 L.Ed.2d 686 (1988). Foremost among the procedural safeguards provided for in the Act is the guarantee that parents13 may contest "any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child or the provision of a free appropriate public education to such child" in "an impartial due process state administrative hearing."14 In Connecticut, this function is performed by the State Department of Education. Connecticut has established a hearing and appeal procedure consonant with the mandates of 20 U.S.C. § 1415.15

The Act's "stay put" provision directs that a disabled child "shall remain in the then current placement" pending completion of any review proceedings, unless the parents and state or local educational agencies otherwise agree.16 While the Act allows for interim placements where parents and school officials are able to agree, it also authorizes the filing of a § 1415(e)(2) suit for "appropriate" injunctive relief where such an agreement cannot be reached.

At the conclusion of any impartial due process hearing, either the parents or the local educational agency may seek further administrative review, or may file a civil action in any state or federal court.17 In the course of reviewing the administrative proceedings, the statute provides that the reviewing court

shall receive the records of the administrative proceedings, shall hear additional evidence at the request of a party, and, basing its decision on the preponderance of the evidence, shall grant such relief as the court determines is appropriate.

20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2).

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. Plaintiff K.P. was born December 3, 1971. It is undisputed that he has severe neurologically-based emotional disabilities. (Ex. SB-17 p. 4).

2. K.P.'s mother was a resident of the Town of Norwich from before K.P.'s birth in 1971 until sometime after July 16, 1990.

3. In January, 1976, at age four, K.P. was evaluated by Newington Children's Hospital. It was recommended that he participate in special programming for the elimination of his dysfluencies (stuttering). (B-1, p. 1). Although it was recommended that K.P. remain in nursery school another year, he began kindergarten in the fall of 1976 in the Norwich School System. (B-3, p. 4, B-4, B-6, B-7).

4. In October, 1976, K.P.'s kindergarten teacher requested psychological services for him, stating in part, "many situations indicate that K.P. needs a different learning environment." (B-7, p. 2). The first Planning and Placement Team meeting was held and programming was developed in response to the psychological evaluation. (B-8). A second PPT meeting in April, 1977 recommended a program for "children with special needs in the area of social and emotional adjustment." (B-16). K.P.'s special education eligibility was verified on April 28, 1977. (B-19).

5. The record provides ample documentation of K.P.'s difficulties with school. It includes teacher evaluations, Individualized Education Programs and PPTs, plus numerous educational, medical and psychological evaluations. (See, B-20—B-67).

6. K.P. attended public school in Norwich until March, 1980. A PPT summary dated August 21, 1979 recommended that K.P. be referred to the Department of Children and Youth Services'18 non-committed program for residential placement. (B-49, see also B-66). Norwich Board of Education entered into a non-committed shared placement arrangement with DCYS for K.P. (B-69).

7. On March 24, 1980, DCYS placed K.P. at Devereux-Rutland School in Rutland, Massachusetts. The placement was supposed to last until September, 1983. At the time of his admission, the plaintiff was eight years old. (SB-17 p. 7).

8. On October 8, 1983, K.P. was discharged from Devereux, at his mother's request, to resume living at home. He returned unsuccessfully to classes in the Norwich School System. (B-107).

9. On November 1, 1983, K.P. was admitted to Riverview Hospital for Children, a psychiatric facility, after his behavior at home became unmanageable. (B-114).

10. On February 15, 1984, K.P. returned to Devereux. DCYS placed K.P. back at Devereux with the understanding that petitions for his commitment to DCYS would be filed...

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11 cases
  • J.B. v. Killingly Bd. of Educ., 3:97 CV 1900(GLG).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • December 19, 1997
    ...1415(i)(2)(B)(iii) (amending section 1415(e)(2)), which allows courts to grant all appropriate equitable relief. See K.P. v. Juzwic, 891 F.Supp. 703, 712 (D.Conn.1995) (analyzing the stay put provision together with the predecessor to section 1415(i)(2)(B)(iii)). According to the Supreme Co......
  • Cosgrove v. Board of Educ. of Niskayuna Cent. Sch.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Northern District of New York
    • July 3, 2001
    ...That relief, however, arises from equity and is not a legislative authorization to extend the reaches of the statute. In K.P. v. Juzwic, 891 F.Supp. 703 (D.Conn.1995), relied upon by the Plaintiffs, the District of Connecticut addressed the precise issue now before this Court, that is, whet......
  • Mr. & Mrs. D. v. Southington Bd. of Educ.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • October 20, 2000
    ...because it does not specifically mention tuition reimbursement. The only authority cited by the plaintiff is K.P. v. Juzwic, 891 F.Supp. 703, 717 (D.Conn. 1995), which held that the time period for bringing a claim for compensatory education, resting upon the same foundation as a claim for ......
  • Somoza v. New York City Dept. of Educ., 06 CV 5025(VM).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Southern District of New York
    • February 21, 2007
    ...Blau Program." (Decision of SRO, No. 06-086, attached as Ex. 14 to A.R., at 8; Def.'s Pretrial Mem. at 8.) See also K.P. v. Juzwic, 891 F.Supp. 703, 716-717 (D.Conn.1995) ("This action did not accrue until K.P.'s substantial gains at Brown Sullivan indicated that he had the capacity to deve......
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