St. Louis Dev. Dis. Treatment Center v. Mallory

Decision Date08 August 1984
Docket NumberNo. 80-4012-CV-C-H.,80-4012-CV-C-H.
Citation591 F. Supp. 1416
CourtU.S. District Court — Western District of Missouri

Stanley J. Eichner, Robert J. Goodwin, Ann B. Lever, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, David Howard, Adrienne Volenik, National Center for Youth Law, St. Louis, Mo., for plaintiffs.

Michael Boicourt, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, Mo., for defendants.


ELMO B. HUNTER, Senior District Judge.

This case, tried to the Court without a jury, presents a challenge to a portion of Missouri's system of providing special education to the handicapped. At issue are the special schools and facilities in Missouri that serve the more profoundly and severely handicapped children of the State. These special schools are attended only by handicapped children.1 The plaintiffs2 posit that the separate nature of the schools prevents the handicapped children who attend them from progressing as they would if they attended a typical, local public school. The defendants,3 on the other hand, view the special schools as a necessary component of a special education system because not all handicapped children can benefit educationally4 from attending a regular, neighborhood school.

The plaintiffs have advanced six statutory or constitutional bases for challenging the special schools and facilities. They maintain that placing handicapped children in schools attended only by handicapped children violates the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, 20 U.S.C. ? 1401 et seq; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution; 42 U.S.C. ? 1983; and Missouri statutory law. The plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, they urge the Court to set out a time table for the closing of all special schools and the "integration" of the handicapped children served in them into local schools. As the plaintiffs view the change, no more than three classes of profoundly handicapped children would be placed in any one regular school. The classes and the schools would be age matched so that elementary aged, profoundly handicapped children would attend a special education class in an elementary school and so on.

The plaintiffs, however, do make a few exceptions. One, the plaintiffs do not actually urge that all handicapped children be allowed to attend regular schools. They except the medically fragile, and the physically abusive.5 The medically fragile are children for whom attending a regular school would pose a potentially life threatening danger. These are children who can not be moved safely. The physically abusive are children who due to their aggressive behavior pose a physical threat to themselves or others. Two, the plaintiffs do not seek the closing of all special schools that serve only the handicapped. They do not challenge the State School for the Blind nor the State School for the Deaf. The plaintiffs' efforts are directed at the State Schools for the Severely Handicapped, the State Schools and Hospitals administered by the Department of Mental Health, and the separate schools maintained by the two special school districts. Again, the Court emphasizes that the issue presented is not whether any of the individual plaintiffs have been mistakenly placed in a special school,6 but whether the defendants' special education system which utilizes separate schools violates any of the statutory or constitutional provisions alleged.7

Before turning to the specific challenges, the Court begins with an overview of the special education system in Missouri.

I. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

The public school system of Missouri offers a free education to any child, handicapped or nonhandicapped, who lives in the State and is between the ages of six and twenty. Mo.Rev.Stat. ?? 160.051, 162.670. At the beginning of the 1982-83 school year over 805,000 youngsters, including approximately 116,000 handicapped children were enrolled in Missouri's public schools.8 SD Exh. 16; Stip. 1.12.9 The State Board of Education is charged with carrying out the educational policies of the State and with overseeing the public school system. Mo.Rev.Stat. ? 161.092. The responsibility for the actual daily administration of the system falls to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). The DESE administers a system composed of 547 local school districts, two special school districts, and the special schools for handicapped children. Stip. 1.1. The special schools include the fifty-two State Schools for the Severely Handicapped (State Schools) attended by 2,450 profoundly handicapped youngsters, the State School for the Blind and the State School for the Deaf which together served slightly more than 400 children in 1982-83.10Id. at 1.14. The special schools all fall within the auspices of the Division of Special Education of the DESE. The Division of Special Education is responsible for the education of all of Missouri's school-age handicapped population, including those children served by local school districts. Also, within the auspices of the Division are 291 children served by private agencies under contract with the State Schools. Id. at 1.14. Finally, although not in a public school, 216 additional youngsters are educated at public expense by the Department of Mental Health.11

In Missouri, the vast majority of the handicapped school-age population attend regular schools and are the educational responsibility of the local school districts. Missouri, by law, favors placing handicapped children in regular schools. Mo. Rev.Stat. ? 162.680(2). Of the 116,000 handicapped children in the State, approximately 111,000 attend their regular, neighborhood school. SD Exh. 16; Stips. 1.14 and 3.5. The remaining children attend separate schools or facilities. The DESE has established a continuum of alternative placements for handicapped children which include a regular classroom in a regular school, a regular classroom with an educational resource teacher, a regular classroom with an itinerant teacher, a regular classroom with a resource classroom available, a self-contained classroom in a regular school, a split time arrangement between a regular and special school, a special school, a public institution or hospital, a private agency, or homebound instruction.12 Missouri State Plan FY 84-86 at A30-A33;13 R. Werner at Vol. 13.14 The focus in this case is on the separate schools, public institutions, and the private agencies that serve only the handicapped. The schools being challenged are the State Schools for the Severely Handicapped, the DMH State Schools and Hospitals, and the separate schools of the special school districts.

In 1958 Missouri created a system of special schools to educate its handicapped youth. These separate schools at that time served the moderately handicapped. In the early 1970's before the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, the state made an effort to locate all of the school-age handicapped population and place them in a state funded school or institution to receive educational services. Hall at Vol. 17.15 The State Schools have evolved to where today their mission is solely to serve the "severely handicapped." By statute, Missouri has defined the "severely handicapped" as children who due to their handicapping condition are "unable to benefit from or meaningfully participate in programs in the public schools for handicapped children." Mo.Rev.Stat. ? 162.675(3).

The state school system is administered by the Division of Special Education of the DESE. Dr. Leonard W. Hall is the Assistant Commissioner in charge of the division. Directly underneath him is Dr. John B. Heskett, the Superintendent of the State Schools for the Severely Handicapped.16 Dr. Heskett and an assistant superintendent oversee twelve supervisors. Seven have responsibility for particular aspects of the system statewide and five are charged with the direct administration and supervision of the State Schools within a particular geographic region of the State.17 The DESE budgeted $880,000 for the 1982-83 school year to cover the salaries of the administration and their support staff. Heskett at Vol. 6 and 9.

The State Schools had a budget of approximately $14.9 million for the 1982-83 school year. SD Exh. 13. Most of the money, $13.2 million, came from the general revenues of the state.18 Supp.Stip. 3(a). The remainder comes primarily from Chapter One of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981, P.L. 97-35, 20 U.S.C. ? 3801 et seq. (Chap. One). The State Schools received an additional $1.2 million in Chapter One funds,19 and carried over a little less than $600,000 in Chapter One money from the previous year.20 Heskett at Vol. 9; Hall at Vol. 17. Another source of federal funds is the Education of All Handicapped Children Act. P.L. 94-142, 20 U.S.C. ? 1401 (Education Act).21 The bulk of these funds, however, are passed on to the local and special school districts that serve handicapped children. In 1982-83, Missouri received $2 million under the Education Act, and the DESE passed between 88% and 89% directly to the local and special districts that serve handicapped children. Supp.Stip. 1(c); John at Vol. 12.22 The other twelve percent is treated as a discretionary fund which is allocated by the DESE upon application from the individual school districts.23 In 1982-83, Missouri used its Chapter One funds to pay the salaries of the teacher aides employed in the State Schools. The State Schools also received approximately $30,000 in discretionary funds under the Education Act for in-service training, and another $443,000 for a summer school program. Heskett at Vol. 9. The State Schools used...

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    ...the remainder must be used for support and direct services. 20 U.S.C. § 1411(c) and (d)." (St. Louis Dev. Dis. Treatment Center v. Mallory (W.D.Mo.1984) 591 F.Supp. 1416, 1423, fn. 21.)3 The state courts of California have accepted concurrent jurisdiction with the federal courts to adjudica......
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    ...intended to enact and amend the IDEA pursuant to its Fourteenth Amendment powers. See St. Louis Dev. & Disability Treatment Ctr. Parents Ass'n v. Mallory, 591 F. Supp. 1416, 1473-74 (W. D. Mo. 1984), aff'd, 767 F.2d 518 (8th Cir. 1985) (finding legislative intent to rely on Fourteenth Amend......
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    • United States
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