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S.W. v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

November 18, 2014

S.W., a minor, by her parent and next friend, SHANNON WEEMS, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

For SHANNON WEEMS, On her own behalf and as next friend of minor child, S.W., Plaintiff: Sarah Liley Flohre, THE CHILDREN'S LAW CENTER, Washington, DC.

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

Amended Report and Recommendation [1]

ALAN KAY, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

Pending before the Court are Defendant's Motion to Dismiss and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support thereof (collectively, the " Motion") [4], Plaintiffs' Opposition to the Motion (" Opposition") [6] and Memorandum of Points and Authorities in support thereof (Pls.' Memorandum") [6-1], and Defendant's Reply (" Reply") [7]. The Honorable Tanya S. Chutkan referred this case to the undersigned for full case management, which includes a report and recommendation on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss. (8/20/2014 Minute Order.)

I. Background

The underlying suit is brought pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq . (" IDEIA"). (Complaint [1] ¶ 1.) Plaintiff S.W. is a minor, proceeding through her parent Shannon Weems, who is also named as a Plaintiff. On February 10, 2014, District of Columbia Public Schools (" DCPS") convened a meeting to determine if S.W. was eligible for special education and related services and DCPS concluded that S.W. was ineligible. (Complaint ¶ ¶ 26-27.) On February 24, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a due process complaint alleging that DCPS denied S.W. a free and appropriate education ('FAPE") by: 1) failing to locate, identify and evaluate S.W. pursuant to D.C.'s Child Find obligations; 2) failing to find that S.W. was eligible for special education; and 3) failing to provide S.W. with a safe and appropriate school placement. (Complaint ¶ 31.) A due process hearing was conducted on April 8, 2014 and the Hearing Officer issued his Hearing Officer Determination (" HOD") on April 23, 2014. (Complaint ¶ ¶ 38, 43.)

In his HOD, the Hearing Officer concluded that DCPS defaulted on its Child Find obligation by " failing to evaluate Student for an ED [emotional disturbance] disability after receiving the January 2014 evaluation request from Petitioner's Counsel." (Complaint Exh. 1 [HOD] at 11.) The Hearing Officer further found that Petitioner established that the Student " exhibited at least three of the five characteristics of the ED condition" but noted that " the evidence does not establish whether Student also requires special education services as a result of her ED disability." (Exh. 1 at 13; Complaint ¶ ¶ 49-50.) " Instead of finding S.W. eligible for services, the Hearing Officer ordered DCPS to convene an MDT meeting (" Multidisciplinary Team Meeting") within ten school days to determine if S.W. is a child with a disability. . . ." (Complaint ¶ 51; Exh. 1 at 15.)

Plaintiffs seek relief from the April 23, 2014 " HOD that found S.W. ineligible for special education and related services." (Pls.' Memorandum at 4.) More specifically, Plaintiffs assert that:

The HOD contains palpable errors of fact and law, especially with regard to the conclusion that the Plaintiffs did not meet their burden of proof in arguing S.W. was eligible for special education and related services. The Plaintiffs are aggrieved by the HOD's finding that S.W. is not eligible for special education and related services.

(Complaint ¶ ¶ 53-54.)

Defendant District of Columbia (" Defendant" or " the District") moves to dismiss the Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), for lack of jurisdiction, and Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. (Motion at 2.)

II. Legal Standard

A. Legal Standard Under Rule ...


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