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District of Columbia v. Pearson

United States District Court, District of Columbia

February 8, 2013

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Plaintiff,
v.
Annette PEARSON, Mother and Next Friend of J.P., a minor, Defendant.

Page 83

[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

Page 84

Veronica A. Porter, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Washington, DC, for Plaintiff.

Robert W. Jones, James E. Brown & Associates, PLLC, Washington, DC, for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

GRANTING THE PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT; DENYING THE DEFENDANT'S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

J.P. is a minor child who is eligible to receive special education services. Pursuant to administrative proceedings below, J.P. was initially placed in a non-public school in Springfield, Virginia. After one year, however, the District of Columbia Public Schools (" the District" ) elected to place him in one of its public schools. J.P.'s mother subsequently filed a due process complaint against the District. During the ensuing due process hearing, a hearing officer held that the District had not denied J.P. a free and appropriate public education (" FAPE" ) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., but outlined specific steps that the District should take to enhance the services that it provided to J.P. The District now appeals the hearing officer's decision, contending that the remedy that she ordered should be vacated. The plaintiff has filed a motion for summary judgment, and the defendant, J.P.'s mother, has filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the plaintiff's motion, and denies the defendant's cross-motion.

II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

J.P. is a 16-year-old student in need of special education services. Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts (" Pl.'s Stmt." ) ¶ 2. In 2010, he was given a comprehensive psychological evaluation, which indicated that he was deficient in all academic areas, and that he had attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression. Id. Pursuant to a hearing officer's determination (" HOD" ) on November 12, 2010, the District placed and funded J.P. at Accotink Academy, a non-public school in Springfield, Virginia. Id. ¶ 3. On December 10, 2010, a Multi-Disciplinary Team (" MDT" ) met to review and revise J.P.'s Individualized Education Program (" IEP" ), which had been developed on December 7, 2010. Id. ¶ 4. The IEP indicated that J.P. was to receive 26 hours per week of Specialized Instruction, and 240 hours per week of Behavioral Support services outside of the general education setting. Id. ¶ 6. During the 2010-11 school year, J.P. was disciplined for various offenses, including being disruptive, using foul language, not following directions, and being disrespectful. Id. ¶ 9. His grades worsened in all subjects except for one, and he was absent a total of 77 days. Id. ¶¶ 10-11.

An MDT met on June 7, 2011, and proposed to change his placement to Woodson High School, a public school in the District. Pl.'s Stmt. ¶ 9. J.P.'s mother, the defendant in this matter, opposed that placement, stating that she wanted him to remain at Accotink. Id. ¶ 14. On June 9, 2011, the defendant filed an administrative due process complaint against the District, alleging that it had denied J.P. a FAPE. Id. ¶ 15; Administrative Record (" A.R." ), Due Process Compl. Notice [Dckt. # ...


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