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Alston v. Dist. of Columbia

July 17, 2006

CHANDA ALSTON ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina United States District Judge

Document No. 4

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS'MOTION FOR A STAY PUT INJUNCTION

I. INTRODUCTION

This case comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion for a stay put injunction.*fn1 The plaintiffs in this case are a handicapped child and her mother. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants, the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Public Schools ("DCPS"), violated the stay put provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq. The plaintiffs move the court for injunctive relief to end the defendants' alleged violation of the plaintiffs' stay put rights. Because the defendants stopped funding the plaintiff's residential placement in violation of the IDEA's stay put provision, as set forth in 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j), the court grants the plaintiffs' motion for a stay put injunction.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual Background

C.A. is thirteen years old and brings this suit through her mother, Chanda Alston. Compl. 2. C.A. is "multiply handicapped" and eligible for special education services. Id. 6. C.A.'s Individualized Education Program ("IEP")*fn2 for 2005-2006 requires a daytime instructional placement at a special education program in Cabin John Middle School and a residential placement at Grafton School. Laster v. Dist. of Columbia, 394 F. Supp. 2d 60, 67 (D.D.C. 2005).

In January 2006, Grafton School announced that it would close its Rockville, Maryland campus. Pls.' Mot. at 4. On February 14, 2006, representatives from Grafton School, a representative from DCPS, C.A.'s mother, and the plaintiffs' counsel participated in a teleconference meeting to discuss C.A.'s residential living options once Grafton closed. Defs.' Opp'n at 2. The defendants allege that Alston and the other members of the IEP team agreed that C.A. should return home to live with her mother once Grafton closed. Id. Pursuant to the alleged agreement, DCPS would continue paying the fees for Cabin John Middle School. Id. Alston, however, claims that she "neither consented to [the] elimination of C.A.'s residential program nor waived her rights under the Stay Put provision of IDEA." Pls.' Reply at 4. Alston alleges that she "requested [through her attorney] that DCPS provide a referral for a substitute placement for Grafton" at the teleconference meeting. Pls.' Mot. at 6; Pls.' Mot. Ex. B ¶ 12.

On February 18, 2006, Grafton School closed its Rockville campus. Id. at 4. Since that time, DCPS has not proposed or selected an alternative residential placement for C.A. Id. at 4-5. Alston claims that she contacted DCPS staff requesting substitute residential placement for C.A. on January 30, 2006, February 1, 2006, February 2, 2006, March 9, 2006, and April 5, 2006. Pls.' Mot. at 6. To date, however, DCPS has not provided a substitute residential placement for C.A.

B. Procedural Background

On May 5, 2006, the plaintiffs filed a due process complaint before the DCPS Student Hearing Office asserting C.A.'s right to attend Cabin John and a substitute for Grafton's residential placement program. Pls.' Mot. at 6. On the same day, the plaintiffs filed a motion for emergency stay put relief, seeking an order requiring the defendants to recommend and fund a substitute residential program for C.A.. Pls.' Mot. at 1. The defendants filed an opposition motion opposing the motion for stay put relief on May 24, 2006. Defs.' Opp'n at 1.

This is the second time within the past year that the plaintiffs have filed a motion seeking stay put relief. On the first occasion, the plaintiffs filed a motion for emergency stay put relief because DCPS was not funding C.A.'s enrollment at Cabin John as required by her 2005-2006 IEP. Laster, 394 F. Supp. 2d at 63. On September 28, 2005, this court granted the plaintiffs' motion, requiring DCPS to fund C.A.'s ...


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