Moubry v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 696(Ely)

Citation951 F.Supp. 867
Decision Date13 May 1996
Docket NumberCiv. No. 5-95-186.
PartiesJoe MOUBRY, a minor, By and Through his parent, Rita MOUBRY, Plaintiff, v. INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NUMBER 696(ELY), Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Education, and the Board of Education for the State of Minnesota, Defendant.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Minnesota

Sonya Kerr, Inver Grove Heights, MN, for plaintiff.

Susan E. Torgerson, Charles E. Long, St. Paul, MN, for defendant Independent School Dist. No. 696.

Rachel Kaplan, Asst. Minnesota Atty. Gen., St. Paul, MN, for defendants Comm'r of Minnesota Dept. of Education and Board of Education for State of Minnesota.

ORDER

KYLE, District Judge.

Introduction

This matter was referred to United States Magistrate Judge Raymond L. Erickson for a report and recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B) on the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment and the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss. In a Report and Recommendation dated March 27, 1996 ("R & R"), Magistrate Judge Erickson recommends the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied, the Defendant Independent School District's ("District") Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part, and the Defendants Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Education ("Commissioner") and the Board of Education for the State of Minnesota's ("Board") (collectively the "State Defendants") Motion to Dismiss be granted in part and denied in part. Before the Court are the State Defendants' Objections to the Magistrate Judge's recommendation to deny in part its Motion to Dismiss, and the Plaintiff's response thereto; the Plaintiff and the District have not filed objections.

Plaintiff commenced this action alleging the Defendants violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), and various Minnesota state laws. The pertinent factual and procedural background in this matter is fully set forth in the R & R. (See R & R at 4-20.)

In the R & R, Magistrate Judge Erickson concluded, inter alia: (1) the Commissioner may be held liable for the District's alleged failure to provide the Plaintiff with a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE") (R & R at 47-48); and (2) the Plaintiff's Complaint states a viable ADA claim (R & R 35-39). The State Defendants object to both these conclusions. With respect to the first objection, the Commissioner contends he may not be held liable for the District's alleged failure to provide a FAPE because Plaintiff has not shown the District "significantly breached its responsibility" under the IDEA. (Objections at 4.) With respect to the second objection, the Commissioner and the Board contend Plaintiff's ADA claim is cognizable as an IDEA claim, and as such, should be dismissed because Plaintiff failed to exhaust available IDEA administrative remedies prior to commencing suit.

The Court has independently reviewed the R & R, the State Defendants' objections, the Plaintiff's response, and the material submitted to the Magistrate Judge relative to the State Defendants' Motion as required by 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The R & R is thorough and well-reasoned. The R & R correctly analyzed the issues raised in the State Defendants' objections, and that analysis will not be repeated here. The Court concurs with the conclusions of Magistrate Judge Erickson and will adopt his R & R in its entirety.

Conclusion

Accordingly, based upon a de novo review of all the files, records, and proceedings herein, the Report and Recommendation of Magistrate Judge Erickson dated March 27, 1996 (Doc. No. 39) is ACCEPTED and IT IS ORDERED that:

(1) Defendant Independent School District's Motion to Dismiss (Doc. Nos. 2, 5) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as follows:

(a) Defendant Independent School District's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claim to enforce the HRO's Order is GRANTED and this claim is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE; (b) Defendant Independent School District's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's claims for reimbursement of educational costs and expenses during the 1994-95 school year and claims for compensatory education during the 1994-95 school year is GRANTED and these claims are DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE; and (c) The Independent School District's Motion is, in all other respects, DENIED.

(2) State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Doc. No. 4) is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART as follows:

(a) The State Defendants' Motion, with respect to Plaintiff's claims the Commissioner failed to ensure he received special education services from October 1993 through April 1994 and Plaintiffs ADA claims premised upon discrimination in personnel qualifications and the establishment of a state facility devoted to children suffering from apraxia, is DENIED; and

(b) The State Defendants' Motion is, in all other respects, GRANTED; Plaintiff's claim, as it relates to the Commissioner's monitoring and complaint process, is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE and Plaintiff's claim, as it relates to the qualifications of the District's "related service personnel," is DISMISSED WITH PREJUDICE.

(3) Plaintiff's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings or, alternatively, for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 6) is DENIED.

ORDER and REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION

ERICKSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

At Duluth, in the District of Minnesota, this 27th day of March, 1996.

I. Introduction

This matter came before the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to a special assignment, made in accordance with the provisions of Title 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) and (B), upon the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, upon the Defendants' Motions to Dismiss, and upon the Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement the Record.

A Hearing on the Motions was conducted on November 7, 1995, at which time the Plaintiff appeared by Sonya Kerr, Esq., the Defendant Independent School District No. 696 ("School District") appeared by Susan E. Torgerson and Charles E. Long, Esqs., and the Defendant Commissioner of Minnesota Department of Education and the Defendant Board of Education for the State of Minnesota (collectively referred to as the "Commissioner") appeared by Rachel Kaplan, Assistant Minnesota Attorney General.

For reasons which follow, we grant, in part, the Plaintiff's Motion to Supplement the Record, and we recommend that the School District's Motion to Dismiss be granted in part; that the Commissioner's Motion to Dismiss be granted in part; and that the Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment be denied.

II. Procedural and Factual Background

A. Procedural Posture. Pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Title 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. ("IDEA"),1 the Federal Government ensures that students with disabilities receive a "free, appropriate public education" ("FAPE"). Title 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c). The IDEA imposes extensive procedural and substantive requirements on participating State and local agencies to safeguard a disabled student's right to FAPE. Among the procedural safeguards that are mandated by the IDEA, Section 1415(b)(2) requires an independent Due Process Hearing to be conducted by a State educational agency, so as to insure that the parents of handicapped children will be afforded an opportunity to register their complaints concerning a public school's evaluation, or the educational placement of their child. Pursuant to the Act, the State of Minnesota has promulgated Rules which create a procedure for the conduct of such Hearings. See, Minnesota Statutes Section 120.17, Subdivision 3b(e); Minnesota Rule 3525.4000;2 see also, Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311-12, 108 S.Ct. 592, 598, 98 L.Ed.2d 686 (1987) (The procedural safeguards "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 inappropriate."). In accordance with Minnesota law, two levels of Administrative Review were completed below. See, Minnesota Statutes Section 120.17, Subdivision 3b(a) and Section 120.17, Subdivision 3b(g); Title 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(2).

At the first level of the administrative process, a Hearing Officer ("HO"), who was appointed by the Minnesota Commissioner of Education, heard seven days of testimony, and concluded that the School District had failed to provide the Plaintiff with FAPE, as required by the IDEA, for the period commencing in October of 1992, and continuing through October 4, 1993, but that the School District was not responsible for its failure to provide services during the period from October 4, 1993, through March of 1994.

The Plaintiff subsequently appealed this determination. A Hearing Review Officer ("HRO"), who was also appointed by Minnesota's Commissioner of Education, conducted an Administrative Review, considered additional evidence and, essentially, affirmed the decision of the HO. In order to furnish a succinctly stated factual context for the discussion which follows, we briefly summarize the Administrative Record before us.

B. Factual Background. The Plaintiff, who was born on May 21, 1989, suffers from verbal apraxia3 — an impairment which has resulted in severe speech communication problems — as well as deficiencies in fine and gross motor skills. The Plaintiff was first diagnosed at the University of Minnesota Clinic, in Minneapolis, in July of 1992. At that time, the Plaintiff was 3 years old, and his Mother ("Moubry") was concerned that his speech was not developing in a normal manner.

In August of 1992, Moubry began driving the Plaintiff to Duluth for weekly speech services in the Robert F. Pierce Clinic at the University of Minnesota — Duluth. At that time, the Plaintiff resided in Ely, Minnesota, a rural community which is located approximately 150 miles northwest...

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  • Moubry v. Independent School Dist. 696, Ely, Minn.
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    ...has followed State administrative proceedings concerning the Plaintiff's education. See generally, Moubry v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 696 (Ely), 951 F.Supp. 867 (D.Minn.1996) ("Moubry I"); Moubry v. Independent Sch. Dist. No. 696 (Ely) ("Moubry II"), Civ. No. 5-95-186(RLE), slip (D.Minn.,......
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