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Friendship Edison Public Charter School Collegiate Campus v. Murphy

September 21, 2006

FRIENDSHIP EDISON PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL COLLEGIATE CAMPUS, PLAINTIFF,
v.
MARIAN MURPHY, AS NEXT FRIEND OF THE MINOR CHILD, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



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

Document No. 8

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT*fn1

I. INTRODUCTION

The plaintiff, Friendship Edison Public Charter School ("Edison"), brings this action against Marian Murphy and her child, D.W. (collectively, "the defendant") pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq. ("IDEA"). The plaintiff asks the court to reverse a hearing officer's decision ("HOD") that the plaintiff failed to provide D.W. with a free appropriate public education ("FAPE"). The defendant moves to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiff has not shown that the HOD is wrong. Because the plaintiff has not alleged facts sufficient to show that the hearing officer erred in his decision, the court grants the defendant's motion to dismiss.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Factual History

The plaintiff is a D.C. public charter school. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendants Marian Murphy and her sixteen-year old child D.W. are residents of the District of Columbia. Id. ¶ 3. D.W. is a student with a learning disability, eligible to receive special education services pursuant to the IDEA.*fn2 Id. ¶¶ 5-6. D.W. attended Edison during the 2004-2005 school year. Id. ¶ 5. His individualized education program ("IEP")*fn3 provided that he was to receive six hours of specialized instruction and 30 minutes of psychological counseling per week in a combination setting*fn4 of general and special classes, Admin. R. Ex. 3 ("HOD") at 3. As a result of an HOD dated March 16, 2005, D.W. transferred out of Edison to a private special education school before the 2004-2005 school year ended. Compl. ¶ 7. On June 30, 2005, defendant Murphy requested a due process hearing, maintaining that the plaintiff failed to provide D.W. with the services listed in his IEP. Id. ¶ 8.

At a September 13, 2005 due process hearing, the plaintiff produced two witnesses. Id. ¶ 9. The special education director of Edison and the 2004-2005 special education coordinator both testified that D.W. received special education services in an inclusion setting.*fn5 Id. The plaintiff's witnesses further testified that an independent contractor who no longer worked with Edison provided the services to D.W. Id. ¶ 10. Although the independent contractor allegedly retained the encounter tracking forms,*fn6 or "contact forms," when it completed its contractual obligations at the end of the 2004-2005 school year, the special education director stated that the forms documenting the services provided to D.W. were faxed to defense counsel. Id. ¶ 9. Id. Defendant's counsel, however, denied receiving the forms. HOD at 5.

At the due process hearing, D.W. also testified about the condition of the classroom and the services he received from his teachers. Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss ("Def.'s Mot.") at 7. He stated that he received services "once or twice" at Edison, HOD at 4-5, and testified that he did not see his related service providers, Def.'s Mot. at 7.

On September 28, 2005, the hearing officer issued an HOD. In the HOD, the hearing officer relied heavily on D.W.'s testimony to conclude that the plaintiff failed to provide the required services to D.W. HOD at 4-6. Consequently, he ordered the plaintiff to convene a meeting to discuss compensatory education. Id. at 5.

B. Procedural History

On October 28, 2005, the plaintiff brought suit against the defendants and the District of Columbia, seeking to reverse the HOD. Compl. at 5. On December 19, 2005, the defendant moved to dismiss, asserting that the plaintiff has not shown that the HOD is incorrect. Def.'s Mot. at 1. The plaintiff opposes the motion, arguing that the hearing officer erred in requiring Edison to produce the contact forms and in failing to consider all the evidence presented by Edison. See Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. ("Pl.'s Opp'n"). On September 5, 2006, the court granted ...


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