Mitchell v. Walter, No. C-2-81-1202.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
Writing for the CourtDennis Cichon, Clement W. Pyles, Ohio Legal Rights Service, Columbus, Ohio, for plaintiffs
Citation538 F. Supp. 1111
PartiesJoan MITCHELL, in her own right and as next friend and mother of Anthony W. Mitchell, Plaintiffs, v. Franklin B. WALTER, in his official capacity as Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Ohio; et al., Defendants.
Decision Date14 May 1982
Docket NumberNo. C-2-81-1202.

538 F. Supp. 1111

Joan MITCHELL, in her own right and as next friend and mother of Anthony W. Mitchell, Plaintiffs,
v.
Franklin B. WALTER, in his official capacity as Superintendent of Public Instruction of the State of Ohio; et al., Defendants.

No. C-2-81-1202.

United States District Court, S. D. Ohio, E. D.

May 14, 1982.


Dennis Cichon, Clement W. Pyles, Ohio Legal Rights Service, Columbus, Ohio, for plaintiffs.

Richard W. Ross, Asst. Atty. Gen. of Ohio, Lawrence H. Braun, William L. Millard, Columbus, Ohio, Michael G. Spahr, Pros. Atty., James E. Schneider, Asst. Pros. Atty., Washington County, Ohio, for defendants.

OPINION AND ORDER

KINNEARY, District Judge.

This civil action was filed by Joan Mitchell in her own right and on behalf of her son Anthony Mitchell, a nine year old boy who is handicapped by hearing impairment and severe behavioral disturbances. Plaintiffs seek redress for the alleged failure of the defendant state and local educational authorities

538 F. Supp. 1112
to place Anthony Mitchell in a 24-hour residential educational program. This matter is before the Court on plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction and defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure

In their first amended complaint plaintiffs set forth claims arising under three separate statutory schemes. First, plaintiffs claim that Anthony Mitchell is being denied his right to a free appropriate public education under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act EAHCA, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401 et seq., and various federal regulations and state law provisions in accordance therewith. Second, plaintiffs claim a violation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, which prohibits the exclusion of a qualified individual from participation in any federally funded program on account of his handicap. Finally, plaintiffs assert claims under the Civil Rights Act of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for violation of Fourteenth Amendment rights of due process and equal protection. Defendants' motion to dismiss is based primarily on the plaintiffs' failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The Court concludes that defendants' motion is meritorious and dispositive of the issues raised at this stage of the proceedings.

I. The EAHCA Claim

A. Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies Generally

The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401 et seq., was enacted in 1975 to make federal grants available to the states for the provision of educational services to handicapped children. In order to qualify for federal assistance, a state must meet a number of requirements. Central among these is the requirement that the state and local education agencies maintain "a policy that assures all handicapped children the right to a free appropriate public education." 20 U.S.C. § 1412(1).1

In addition, the Act requires any state that receives federal assistance under the funding plan to establish and maintain certain procedures by which the parents or guardian of a handicapped child may challenge the evaluation and placement of the child by the local education agency. A state must provide "an opportunity to present complaints with respect to 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." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1)(E). Upon the registering of a complaint, the parents or guardian must be afforded the right to an "impartial due process hearing," 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(1)-(2), at which the parties have the right to be represented by counsel, to present evidence and confront, cross-examine, and compel the attendance of witnesses, to receive a record of the hearing, and to receive written findings of fact and decisions. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(d). When a due process hearing is conducted by a local agency, any party must have the opportunity to appeal the findings and decisions rendered in such a hearing to the state education agency for impartial review. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(c). The State of Ohio has given operational effect to these extensive procedural safeguards by enacting section 3323.05 of the Ohio Revised

538 F. Supp. 1113
Code, which adopts the federal procedural scheme in substantially identical terms and authorizes the state department of education to promulgate regulations to carry it out

Finally, the Act provides for judicial review of administrative actions by conferring a private right of action to obtain judicial relief after an administrative record has been established:

Any party aggrieved by the findings and decision made pursuant to the impartial due process hearing or an impartial review conducted by the state education agency shall have the right to bring a civil action with respect to the complaint presented pursuant to this section, which action may be brought in any state court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States without regard to the amount in controversy. In any action brought under this paragraph the 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).

It is now well established that the EAHCA requires the parents or guardian of a handicapped child to exhaust state administrative remedies, including the administrative appeal provisions, before bringing an action in federal court to challenge the evaluation and placement of a child. That Congress intended the local and state educational agencies to address such disputes in the first instance is made evident by the language of the statute itself, which expressly creates a right of action for a "party aggrieved by the findings and decision" reached through the administrative process, and directs that the court "shall receive the records of the administrative proceedings." Id. In explaining the purpose of the exhaustion requirement under the EAHCA, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has identified two important interests to be served:

First, a "strong State interest is reflected in the establishment of a comprehensive scheme of regulation; authority over the subject matter of the dispute has been vested in an expert supervisory body, far more familiar than a Federal court with local factors that legitimately affect administration." Citation omitted. If the expert agency cannot resolve the problem finally, the record made in the administrative proceedings will be extremely helpful to the court, since the administrative agency will likely have probed the issue with more expertise than a Federal court could bring to bear, and therefore, have illuminated the issue for final decision in the Federal court. * * *
Second, the "States, as well as the federal government have an interest in providing a means whereby official abuse can be corrected without resort to lengthy and costly trial." Citation omitted. Resort to administrative processes is a desirable alternative to litigation in the Federal courts.

Riley v. Ambach, 668 F.2d 635, 640 (2d Cir. 1981). See also Ezratty v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 648 F.2d 770 (1st Cir. 1981); Scruggs v. Campbell, 630 F.2d 237 (4th Cir. 1980); Ruth Anne M. v. Alvin Independent Sch. Dist., 532 F.Supp. 460 (S.D.Tex.1982); Akers v. Bolton, 531 F.Supp. 300 (D.Kan. 1981); Doe v. Anrig, 500 F.Supp. 802 (D.Mass.1980); Rose v. State of Nebraska, 530 F.Supp. 295 (D.Neb.1981); Harris v. Campbell, 472 F.Supp. 51 (E.D.Va.1979); Stubbs v. Kline, 463 F.Supp. 110 (W.D.Pa. 1978). The fact that Congress has created a private right of action to challenge the placement of a handicapped child and has extended federal court jurisdiction to hear such cases exhibits a strong policy of protecting every child's interest in the full benefits of equal educational opportunities. At the same time, however, it is evident that strong local, state, and federal interests favor the exhaustion of all state agency procedures before the federal courts are

538 F. Supp. 1114
called upon to act as "super superintendent of schools."2

The plaintiffs here do not deny their failure to request a due process hearing on the matter of Anthony Mitchell's educational placement from the appropriate local educational agency. Rather, they advance two grounds why exhaustion should not be required in this case. First, plaintiffs assert that maintenance of the status quo during the pendency of administrative proceedings will cause Anthony irreparable harm due to the fact that he is not currently receiving any public education at all, "appropriate" or otherwise.3 Second, plaintiffs assert that the pursuit of administrative remedies in this case would be futile because the state department of education has already determined that the State of Ohio is not required to provide 24-hour residential programs under any circumstances. The Court will consider these two contentions in turn.

B. The Hardship Exception

In general, courts have been reluctant to excuse exhaustion requirements on the basis of alleged hardship. In the leading case cited by the plaintiffs, McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 89 S.Ct. 1657, 23 L.Ed.2d 194 (1968), the Supreme Court recognized a hardship exception to the exhaustion of remedies doctrine in the area of the selective service laws. McKart involved a criminal prosecution for failure to report for induction. The defendant in that case attempted to raise an issue relating to his draft eligibility that should properly have been raised before the local selective service board. At the stage in the proceedings when the government raised the exhaustion of remedies doctrine, the possibility of defendant's obtaining administrative relief was entirely foreclosed, and defendant was facing trial on a felony charge carrying a possible sentence of five...

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8 practice notes
  • Sanders By Sanders v. Marquette Public Schools, No. M81-153 CA2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • April 14, 1983
    ...is an implied cause of action under the EAH. See, e.g., Miener v. State of Missouri, 673 F.2d 969 (8th Cir.1982); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D. Ohio 1982); Anderson v. Thompson, 658 F.2d 1205 (7th Cir.1981). Just as uniformly, however, the courts have held that the scope of the......
  • MR v. Milwaukee Public Schools, No. 80-C-592.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • April 16, 1984
    ...See, e.g., Vermont Association for Learning Disabilities, Inc. v. Kaagan, Current EHLR Dec. 554:447 (D.Vt.1983); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D.Ohio 1982); Smith v. Ambach, 3 EHLR 552:490 (W.D.N.Y.1981); H.R. v. Hornbeck, 524 F.Supp. 215 (D.Md. 1981). I am in concurrence with the......
  • Calhoun v. ILLINOIS STATE BD. OF EDUC., ETC., No. 81 C 5257.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 7, 1982
    ...the exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to bringing suit in state or federal court. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2);9 Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D.Ohio 1982); Parks v. Pavkovic, 536 F.Supp. 296 (N.D.Ill.1982); McCowen v. Hahn, "Where Congress has enacted a specific scheme for ob......
  • Howell By Howell v. Waterford Public Schools, No. 89-CV-72004-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • February 9, 1990
    ...enforcement of the Act that is not only just but efficient. Riley v. Ambach, 668 F.2d 635 at 640 (2d Cir.1981); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 at 1113 (S.D.Ohio 1982). See also McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 193-95, 89 S.Ct. 1657, 1662-63, 23 L.Ed.2d 194 (1969) (reasons for do......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Sanders By Sanders v. Marquette Public Schools, No. M81-153 CA2.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • April 14, 1983
    ...is an implied cause of action under the EAH. See, e.g., Miener v. State of Missouri, 673 F.2d 969 (8th Cir.1982); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D. Ohio 1982); Anderson v. Thompson, 658 F.2d 1205 (7th Cir.1981). Just as uniformly, however, the courts have held that the scope of the......
  • MR v. Milwaukee Public Schools, No. 80-C-592.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court of Eastern District of Wisconsin
    • April 16, 1984
    ...See, e.g., Vermont Association for Learning Disabilities, Inc. v. Kaagan, Current EHLR Dec. 554:447 (D.Vt.1983); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D.Ohio 1982); Smith v. Ambach, 3 EHLR 552:490 (W.D.N.Y.1981); H.R. v. Hornbeck, 524 F.Supp. 215 (D.Md. 1981). I am in concurrence with the......
  • Calhoun v. ILLINOIS STATE BD. OF EDUC., ETC., No. 81 C 5257.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • July 7, 1982
    ...the exhaustion of administrative remedies prior to bringing suit in state or federal court. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2);9 Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 (S.D.Ohio 1982); Parks v. Pavkovic, 536 F.Supp. 296 (N.D.Ill.1982); McCowen v. Hahn, "Where Congress has enacted a specific scheme for ob......
  • Howell By Howell v. Waterford Public Schools, No. 89-CV-72004-DT.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • February 9, 1990
    ...enforcement of the Act that is not only just but efficient. Riley v. Ambach, 668 F.2d 635 at 640 (2d Cir.1981); Mitchell v. Walter, 538 F.Supp. 1111 at 1113 (S.D.Ohio 1982). See also McKart v. United States, 395 U.S. 185, 193-95, 89 S.Ct. 1657, 1662-63, 23 L.Ed.2d 194 (1969) (reasons for do......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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