United States District Court, D. Columbia.
ADAM LAGUE, MAURA LAGUE, M. R-I., a minor, by his parents and
next friends, Plaintiffs: Michael J. Eig, LEAD ATTORNEY,
MICHAEL J. EIG & ASSOCIATES, PC, Chevy Chase, MD.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, a municipal corporation, Defendant:
Veronica A. Porter, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Civil Litigation
Division, Washington, DC.
A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.
Adam and Maura LaGue commenced this action against the
District of Columbia on behalf of M.R-I., their minor child,
pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
See Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief
(Document No. 1). In their complaint, Plaintiffs claim that
(1) the District of Columbia
Public Schools (" DCPS" ) failed to provide M.R-I.
with a free appropriate public education (" FAPE" )
(Count I); (2) DCPS failed to develop an appropriate
individualized education program (" IEP" ) for
M.R-I. (Count II), and (3) the Hearing Officer committed
error and violated Plaintiffs' due process rights by
failing to apply correct legal standards, thus failing to
render a proper decision (Count III). As relief, Plaintiffs
ask that the decision of the Hearing Officer be vacated; that
they be reimbursed for tuition and other costs of
M.R-I.'s enrollment at Kingsbury Day School ("
Kingsbury" ) for the 2013-14 school year; that Defendant
be ordered to place and fund M.R-I. at Kingsbury, and to
" declare it to be [M.R-I.'s] current educational
placement[,]" and that they be awarded their costs,
including reasonable attorney's fees, of this action.
Id. at 10-11.
action was referred to the undersigned United States
Magistrate Judge for full case management. Referral (Document
No. 3); see also 08/20/2014 Minute Order. Pending
for consideration by the undersigned are Plaintiffs'
Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 12) and
Defendant's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (Document
No. 17). Upon consideration of the motions; the memoranda in
support thereof and opposition thereto (Document Nos. 18, 19,
20, 21, 23, 25); the administrative record (" AR" )
(Document Nos. 9, 10, 13-1), and the entire record herein,
the undersigned will deny both motions without prejudice, and
remand this matter to the Office of the State Superintendent
for Education Student Hearing Office for further findings in
accordance with the Memorandum Opinion.
a resident of the District of Columbia who was seventeen
years old at the time this action was commenced, has been
determined by DCPS to be eligible for special education and
related services as a student with a disability, Other Health
Impairment (" OHI" ), based upon a diagnosis
Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder. See HOD
at 6. For four school years beginning with the 2009-10 school
year, DCPS placed and funded M.R-I. at Kingsbury Day School
(" Kingsbury" ) -- a non-public, full-time special
education school -- and maintained that placement through the
end of the 2012-13 school year. See id. at
8. During a meeting on June 14, 2013, the IEP team,
consisting of representatives of DCPS and the Plaintiffs,
agreed that M.R-I. " was ready" to attend Columbia
Heights Educational Center (" CHEC" ) -- a general
education school -- for the 2013-14 school year with agreed
upon " supports[.]" An IEP for the 2013-14 school
year was finalized at that meeting. See id.
the first 30 days of the 2013-14 school year, M.R-I. "
earned all As and Bs
in his classes." Id. at 14. During an IEP
meeting conducted on September 30, 2013, concerns regarding
" tracking" of assignments, the need for additional
support in writing and editing and behavioral support
services were discussed. Id. at 15-16. As the school
year progressed, M.R-I.'s parents expressed concern in
communications directed to the Special Education ("
SPED" ) Coordinator about M.R-I. " missing"
assignments during October. Id. at 17-18. On
November 18, 2013, Plaintiff Adam LaGue emailed the SPED
Coordinator regarding his desire to meet to discuss
M.R-I's failure to complete homework assignments and
attend classes, among other concerns. Id. at 20. On
the same day, the SPED Coordinator offered to meet the
parents at their home or at a coffee shop in the evening to
discuss those concerns; however, the parents did not respond
to the request and no meeting took place. Id.
December 20, 2013, Plaintiff Adam LaGue met with the SPED
Coordinator at CHEC to discuss the need for attendance
monitoring due to M.R-I. " skipping school and staying
home playing video games." Id. at 21-22. After
this meeting, at some point between December 20 and 25, 2013,
M.R.-I. apparently attempted suicide and was found hours
later by Plaintiff Maura LaGue several miles away from home.
AR at 468-70; see also HOD at 24.
January 9, 2014, after the holiday break, Nickaya Foster, the
DCPS Case Manager assigned to M.R-I., reached out to the IEP
team " to schedule an IEP meeting to address
[M.R-I.'s] progress, parent concerns, and location of
services." AR at 239; see also HOD at 25. The
meeting was scheduled for January 16, 2014, and Plaintiff
Adam LaGue responded that both he and Plaintiff Maura LaGue
would attend. AR at 239, 243. However, on January 15, 2014,
Plaintiffs, through counsel, notified DCPS by letter that
M.R-I. would return to Kingsbury, effective January 29, 2014,
due to M.R-I's " failure to make progress at CHEC
and need for significantly more services and supports than he
is currently receiving." Id. at 245-246;
see also HOD at 27. Plaintiffs' counsel advised
that the parents would seek public funding for M.R-I.'s
attendance at Kingsbury. Id. Plaintiff's counsel
also requested cancellation of the January 16, 2014 meeting,
which he characterized as one " to discuss [the
Student's] recent absences." AR at 246; see
also HOD at 27. On the same day, a case manager offered
to reschedule the IEP meeting, inviting the parties to "
let us know what date and time you are available to
meet." AR at 248; see HOD at 28.
January 16, DCPS responded to Plaintiffs' notification
letter, and in it, maintained that M.R-I. had received all of
the supports for which the IEP provided, with the exception
of occupational therapy, the subject of a prior authorization
for services other than by DCPS. AR at 251; see HOD
January 30, 2014, counsel advised that M.R-I. returned to
Kingsbury on that day. AR at 250. In the same communication,
counsel stated that " the parents . . . are available
and willing to attend an IEP meeting, if DCPS wishes to
convene one." AR at 250, 251; see also HOD at
30. Later on the same day, the SPED Coordinator replied:
" At this time [CHEC] will not be convening an IEP
meeting for your client." AR at 259; see also
HOD at 31.
filed a due process complaint on February 22, 2014,
challenging the decision not to fund M.R-I.'s placement
at Kingsbury and alleging a failure to provide a FAPE. AR at
263-69. The due process hearing was conducted on April 21,
2014. The following issues were presented for determination:
(a) Since the beginning of School Year (" SY" )
2013-2014, has Respondent denied the Student a Free
Appropriate Public Education (" FAPE" ) by failing
to propose an appropriate Individualized Education Program
(" IEP" ) to meet his needs because he requires a
full-time special education setting?
(b) Since the beginning of SY 2013-2014, has Respondent
denied the Student a FAPE by failing to implement his IEP
fully by failing to provide all of the Occupational Therapy
(" OT" ) and behavioral ...