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Pinto v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

April 10, 2013

NILS RAFAEL PINTO, et al., Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 26

For NILS RAFAEL PINTO, MARTA RIVERA, K. P.R., a minor, by his parents and next friends, Plaintiffs: Michael J. Eig, MICHAEL J. EIG & ASSOCIATES, PC, Chevy Chase, MD.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, A Municipal Corporation, Defendant: Laura George, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL, Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 27

PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, United States District Judge.

Plaintiffs, minor K.P.R. and his parents, bring this case under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § § 1400 et seq., to challenge in part a Hearing Officer's decision denying tuition reimbursement and prospective placement of K.P.R. at the Lab School of Washington. The matter is now before the Court on a motion by defendant District of Columbia to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The District contends that plaintiffs' claims are moot and that plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies. Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, the relevant legal authorities, and the entire record in this case, the Court will deny the District's motion. [1]

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs in this action are K.P.R., a student eligible to receive special education and related services under the IDEA, and his parents and next friends, Nils Rafael Pinto and Marta Rivera. During the fall of 2010, K.P.R. was enrolled at Horace Mann Elementary School, a public school within the District of Columbia Public Schools (" DCPS" ). Compl. ¶ 13. Around that time, K.P.R. was diagnosed with a learning disability, a mixed receptive-expressive language disorder, inability to sustain attention, deficits in certain subject areas, and difficulties with organization, planning and motor control. Id. ¶ ¶ 10, 15, 17-21.

During the 2010-2011 school year, plaintiffs met with DCPS officials on several occasions to develop an individualized education program (" IEP" ) for K.P.R. Compl. ¶ ¶ 22-24, 28, 44. According to plaintiffs, DCPS refused to incorporate adequate special education support and speech and language therapy into K.P.R.'s IEP. Id.

Page 28

¶ ¶ 26, 30-33, 45-46, 49, 52. On January 11, 2011, K.P.R.'s parents notified DCPS that they were removing K.P.R. from Horace Mann and would be seeking reimbursement for appropriate non-public special education services. Id. ¶ 35. K.P.R. finished the school year at Kingbury Day School, a private school that serves learning disabled students. Id. ¶ 36. Before the 2011-2012 school year began, K.P.R.'s parents transferred him to the Lab School of Washington, another private educational institution providing services exclusively to learning disabled children. Id. ¶ 53.

In April 2012, K.P.R.'s parents filed a request for an administrative due process hearing to challenge the IEP created for K.P.R. Compl. ¶ 54. After a four-day hearing in June and July 2012, the Hearing Officer determined that DCPS had failed to conduct appropriate evaluations of K.P.R. and, as a result, had developed an inappropriate IEP for him. Id. ¶ ¶ 56, 60. The Hearing Officer declined, however, to grant plaintiffs' request for publicly funded placement at the Lab School or reimbursement for already-paid tuition expenses, on the basis that the Lab School was not the least restrictive environment for K.P.R. Id. ¶ ¶ 62, 65. The Hearing Officer instead ordered DCPS to conduct appropriate evaluations of K.P.R. and convene a meeting to revise his IEP as appropriate within 30 days of a written request by plaintiffs. Compl. ¶ 64.

On July 26, 2012, plaintiffs timely notified DCPS of their desire to have DCPS commence this process. Id. ¶ 68. By October 2012, however, DCPS had not completed the required evaluations. Id. ¶ 71. Plaintiffs brought two actions in this Court: the first seeking compliance with the Hearing Officer's order that DCPS conduct the necessary evaluations and develop an appropriate IEP; the second requesting review of the Hearing Officer's decision not to place K.P.R. at the Lab School or grant tuition reimbursement.

To remedy DCPS' noncompliance with the Hearing Officer's order, plaintiffs filed a motion for preliminary injunction in a related case, Blackman v. Dist. of Columbia, Civ. Action No. 97-1629, Dkt. No. 2289. The Court referred the preliminary injunction motion to Special Master Elise Baach. While the motion was pending, DCPS completed the required evaluations and developed a new IEP for K.P.R., which includes special education services as well as speech and language therapy. See Plaintiffs' Supplemental Memorandum, Blackman v. Dist. of Columbia, Civ. Action No. 97-1629, Dkt. No. 2293. On December 11, 2012, the Special Master issued her report agreeing with plaintiffs that DCPS had failed to timely comply with ...


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