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Gore v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

September 10, 2014

GLORIA GORE, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

For GLORIA GORE, Plaintiff: Domiento Cornelius Hill, LAW OFFICES OF DOMIENTO C.R. HILL, Upper Marlboro, MD.

For DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant: Victoria Lynne Healy, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Public Interest Division, Washington, DC.

Page 148

MEMORANDUM OPINION

BARBARA J. ROTHSTEIN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Opinion and Order Granting Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [15] and Denying Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment [13]

I. INTRODUCTION

Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment [13] and

Page 149

. Plaintiff Gloria Gore brings this action under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § § 1400, et seq., on behalf of Y.G., her sixteen-year-old granddaughter. Plaintiff alleges that the District of Columbia Public Schools (" DCPS" ) denied Y.G. a free and appropriate public education (" FAPE" ) when it changed Y.G.'s assigned school from The Monroe School to one of the High Road schools, and in doing so, failed to convene a multidisciplinary team meeting to discuss the change, or otherwise include Plaintiff in the decision-making process. Upon consideration of the parties' arguments, the relevant case law, and the entire record, the Court denies the Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment and grants the Defendant's motion for summary judgment.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Gloria Gore is the legal guardian and grandmother of Y.G., a student with specific learning disabilities. Administrative Record (" AR" ) at 3, 5. In September 2010, a hearing officer determined that DCPS denied Y.G. a FAPE when it failed to act in accordance with Y.G.'s individualized education plan (" IEP" ), developed in 2009, and prior hearing officer determinations requiring that Plaintiff be provided with written progress reports and that Y.G's IEP include measurable annual goals. Id. at 18, 23-24. Noting that DCPS had " repeatedly failed to adhere to the requirements of the law[,]" the hearing officer ordered Y.G.'s immediate placement at The Monroe School (" Monroe" ),[1] and ordered that all expenses be paid by DCPS. Id. at 24. In addition, the hearing officer " effectively removed" from DCPS the " right to dictate what services will or will not be provided." Id. Specifically, the September 2010 HOD provided that:

If the Student is, for any reason but for graduation or aging out, no longer able to attend Monroe School, the Student will again become the direct responsibility of the Respondent and all of the procedures and obligations under IDEA will become applicable. Nothing in this order requires placement at another non-public placement, unless the IEP team determines that such a placement is necessary for the Student.

Id.

Subsequently, on two separate occasions, DCPS attempted to transfer Y.G. from Monroe to another nonpublic school. In response, Plaintiff filed two administrative due process complaints in December 2011 and February 2012, challenging Y.G's reassignment from Monroe to Spectrum Academy at Roosevelt High School. Id. at 69-71, 75-78. The hearing officer found in favor of the Plaintiff on both occasions, finding that the September 2010 HOD remained in effect and that DCPS was required to provide transportation services for Y.G. to Monroe. Id. at 70, 79.

On August 22, 2012, DCPS issued a Prior Written Notice [2] indicating a change in Y.G's location of services and that Y.G. would be transferred from Monroe to one of the High Road Schools (" High Road" ). Id. at 87-89. Plaintiff filed an administrative

Page 150

due process complaint on September 14, 2012, alleging that DCPS denied Y.G. a FAPE by changing her assigned school from Monroe to High Road and failing to include Plaintiff in the decision-making ...


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