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Howell v. Dist. of Columbia

November 6, 2007


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

Document No. 1



The plaintiff, on behalf of her child D.H., brings suit and a motion for injunctive relief alleging that the defendant violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, and contract law by failing to provide special education technology and services to D.H. The defendant avers that it has satisfied the terms of the parties' agreement. Because the plaintiff has not established that D.H. is still entitled to services under IDEA, and because the plaintiff's submissions do not support her allegations, the court concludes that the plaintiff has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Accordingly, the court denies the plaintiff's request for injunctive relief.


The hallmark of this case to date is a proud display of inadequate briefing. As a result, the court can provide only a cursory discussion of the events giving rise to the litigation. D.H. was a disabled student within the District of Columbia Public Schools System ("DCPS"). Pl.'s Mot. for TRO ("Pl.'s Mot.") at 1. The plaintiff sought to secure special educational services for D.H., and a dispute ensued. On December 18, 2006, the parties developed an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP") for D.H. which they amended via a Settlement Agreement executed January 10, 2007 ("settlement agreement"). Id. at 3. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the defendant agreed to provide the student with a laptop computer, software programs, a digital voice recorder and 10 hours of compensatory education (tutoring sessions). Pl.'s Mot., Ex. 1; Def.'s Opp'n to Pl.'s Mot. ("Def.'s Opp'n") at 2. The plaintiff argues that the defendant agreed to provide this equipment within 90 days, Pl.'s Mot. at 3, but the Due Process Complaint Resolution Meeting Notes ("meeting notes") indicate that the defendant would require "at least 90 days" to secure the equipment and provide it to D.H., Pl.'s Mot., Ex.2 at 3. The settlement agreement and the attendant documents are silent as to the performance of tutoring services.

The plaintiff's motion does not outline her specific allegations regarding the defendant's failure to comply with the settlement agreement, and her complaint only relates to the defendant's alleged refusal to provide D.H. with the required assistive technology. See generally Compl. But, the defendant asserts, and the plaintiff does not dispute, that it provided D.H. with all the required technology. Def.'s Opp'n at 2 (stating that the plaintiff picked up a Dell laptop on June 27, 2007, and the defendant delivered software, including a digital voice recorder, to the plaintiff's home on July 20, 2007).

The only area of contention, therefore, is the 10 hours of tutoring that the defendant agreed to provide D.H. Def.'s Opp'n at 2-3; see also Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 4 (indicating that only the tutoring sessions remain outstanding). On July 24, 2007, Karen Shaw of DCPS requested that the plaintiff contact Dr. Mebane, acting principal at Sharpe Health School, to schedule the required tutoring sessions. Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 4; Def.'s Opp'n at 2. Shortly thereafter, Mebane contacted the plaintiff to schedule a time to meet with her and to tutor D.H. Def.'s Opp'n at 2. Mebane and the plaintiff had to re-schedule a series of meetings, and the parties dispute the cause of the rescheduled meetings. Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J. at 4-5 (explaining that Mebane refused to schedule tutoring sessions because of a series of scheduling conflicts involving a vacation, a family birthday, a sorority engagement, and a church function, and also stating that Mebane does not return the plaintiff's phone calls, "or will call back and let the phone ring once and hang up before the telephone can be answered"); Def.'s Opp'n at 3 (attributing the scheduling frustrations to the plaintiff's failure to return phone calls, and to the plaintiff's rescheduling a session because of Mebane's delay due to traffic). The parties finally scheduled a tutoring session to occur on September 14, 2007, Def's Opp'n at 3, but the plaintiff contends that the one-hour session took place on September 15, 2007, Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J. at 5.

According to the defendant, D.H. graduated from high school in June of 2007, and he is currently enrolled in college. Def.'s Opp'n at 4. The plaintiff does not respond to this assertion, but she states elsewhere that "school had ended in early June." Pl.'s Reply to Def.'s Opp'n to Mot. for Summ. J. at 3.

The plaintiff initiated this suit in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia as a motion for a temporary restraining order, asking the court to compel the defendant to comply with the IEP and settlement agreement. The defendant removed the case to this court, but it did not respond to the plaintiff's motion until the court ordered the defendant to show cause why the plaintiff's motion should not be granted. The defendant responded to the plaintiff's motion on September 21, 2007. Rather than reply to the defendant's opposition, the plaintiff filed a motion for summary judgment,*fn1 Pl.'s Mot. for Summ. J, which the defendant, in turn, opposes.


A. The Court Denies the Plaintiff's Motion for Injunctive Relief

1. Legal Standard for Injunctive Relief

This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the ...

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