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Young v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia

September 30, 2015

DALE YOUNG, et al., Plaintiffs,

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          For DALE YOUNG, Parent and Next Friend of C.Y., a minor, C. Y., Plaintiffs: Robert Wilson Jones, LEAD ATTORNEY, JAMES E. BROWN & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, Washington, DC.

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

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         DEBORAH A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiffs, Dale Young and minor child C.Y., brought this action against Defendant, the District of Columbia, to recover a total of $25,537.72 in attorneys' fees and costs incurred during the course of administrative proceedings pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § § 1400 et seq. See Complaint (" Compl." ) (Document No. 1). This action was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for full case management. Order Referring Case (Document No. 3). With the consent of the parties, this case was reassigned to the undersigned for all purposes. See (Document Nos. 16, 17).

         Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (Document No. 12) has been fully briefed, and is pending for determination by the court. See also Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of the Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (" Pl.s' Mem." ) (Document No. 12) and accompanying exhibits; Defendant's Opposition to Plaintiffs' Petition for Attorneys' Fees and Costs (" Def.'s Opp'n" ) (Document No. 13); Plaintiffs' Reply to Defendant's Opposition to the Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (" Pl.s' Reply" ) (Document No. 14); Hearing Officer Determination (" HOD" ) (Document 12-2 at 23-31). Upon consideration of the motion, the memoranda in support thereof and in opposition thereto; the exhibits offered in support of the motion, and the entire record herein, the court will grant Plaintiffs' motion in part.


         C.Y. was 12 years old and attended a DCPS middle school at the time of the underlying administrative action. HOD at 3. During School Year (" SY" ) 2011/2012, C.Y. was in 6th grade and generally conformed to expected behavior standards with limited prompting. Id. In SY 2012/13, C.Y. began exhibiting behavioral problems resulting in C.Y.'s suspension about once per month during the SY. Id.

         In approximately September of SY 2012/13, Plaintiff Dale Young contacted the counselor at C.Y.'s school, stated that he suspected C.Y. was having problems academically, and asked for testing to determine whether C.Y. was having problems learning. Id. Plaintiff Dale Young did not hear back from the counselor on this issue. Id. " However, DCPS had both parents coming up to the school to sit in class with [C.Y.] in attempt to avoid suspensions, DCPS had [C.Y.] interact with the counselor and social worker, and DCPS tried to work with parents to get [C.Y.] help outside the school." Id. C.Y. received failing grades for the first and second advisories of SY 2012/13. Id. In or about February 2013, Plaintiff Dale Young sent e-mails to three of C.Y.'s teachers expressing concern about C.Y.'s grades, informing them that he asked the counselor to conduct a testing of C.Y. and that he was waiting for a response, and suggesting that " perhaps [C.Y.] was acting out because [C.Y.] was academically slow in some areas." Id. at 4. After being told by the principal that

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she would suspend C.Y. if C.Y. remained at the school and C.Y.'s homeroom teacher recommended removing C.Y. from the school, Plaintiff Dale Young withdrew C.Y. from the school. Id. at 4.

         In February 2013, C.Y. began attending the second middle school for SY 2012/2013. Id. Plaintiff Dale Young shared his concerns about C.Y.'s academic ability, previous history, and request for testing at the previous school, with the special education coordinator (SEC). Id. It appears that the SEC decided to take a wait and see approach and that nothing was done about Plaintiff Dale Young's concerns. Id. Approximately three weeks after C.Y. began attending the second middle school, C.Y. began exhibiting behavioral problems and was subsequently suspended twice. Id. As there were only two days left of the school year when C.Y. was due to return, Plaintiff Dale Young decided not to take C.Y. back at the end of the school year. Id.

         During the summer of 2013, DCPS began C.Y.'s initial evaluation for special education and related services. Id. In September 2013, DCPS conducted C.Y.'s comprehensive evaluation.[1] C.Y. was diagnosed with Disruptive Behavior Disorder Not Otherwise Specified and Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Combined Type. Id. at 5. For SY 2013/14 Plaintiff Dale Young enrolled C.Y. in the current DCPS middle school. Id. C.Y. began having behavioral problems during the second week of enrollment and was subsequently suspended " at least three times at the start of SY 2013/2014." Id. at 5.

         On November 7, 2013, DCPS conducted an eligibility meeting for C.Y. " Although [C.Y.'s] advocate pointed out [C.Y.'s] many suspensions and problematic behaviors, the team determined that there was not enough information to support ED." Id. Ultimately, the team determined that [C.Y.] qualified for special education and related services with a disability of OHI and ADHD." Id. [2]

         C.Y. continued to exhibit behavioral problems and was again suspended. Id. Plaintiff Dale Young and DCPS disagreed regarding the cause of C.Y.'s behavioral problems. See id. at 5-6. On November 18, 2013, at a manifestation determination review meeting (" MDR" ) concerning C.Y.'s suspension, the MDR team determined that C.Y.'s behavior was not a manifestation of his disability. Id. at 5. Plaintiff Dale Young stated that C.Y.'s behavior at home was not disrespectful and " not as sever." Id. at 6. C.Y.'s advocate disagreed with the MDR team's determination, " asserting that C.Y. should be considered (" ED" ) instead of OHI and ADHD only." Id.

         On November 26, 2013, C.Y.'s IEP team met to develop C.Y.'s initial IEP, which lists OHI (ADD or ADHD) as C.Y.'s primary disability. Id. The IEP required C.Y. to receive 3 hours per week of specialized instruction in general education, 2 hours per week of specialized instruction outside general education, and 120 minutes

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per month of behavioral support services. Id. DCPS indicated that C.Y. would receive additional 30 minutes per week of behavioral support that would not be listed in the IEP. Id. C.Y.'s advocate disagreed with the services provided, asserting that C.Y. needed a full-time therapeutic placement. Id. However, DCPS was concerned that pulling C.Y. out of general education and implementing too many services at the outset would stigmatize C.Y. Id. DCPS indicated a willingness to revisit the IEP after it had been given a chance to work. Id. C.Y. continued to exhibit behavioral problems in November 2013 and was suspended in December 2013. Id. DCPS continued with efforts to help modify C.Y.'s behavior. See id.

         Due Process Complaint and Hearing

         On November 27, 2013, Plaintiffs Dale Young and C.Y. brought an administrative action against DCPS. Id. at 1. The parties were not able to resolve the matter during the resolution period. Id. A subsequent Prehearing Order identified the following Plaintiffs' claims for adjudication:

i. Alleged failure to comply with Child Find obligations and/or timely evaluate or identify [C.Y.] as eligible for special education and/or develop an IEP for [C.Y.] and make services available in a timely manner;
ii. Alleged inappropriate determination on or about November 18, 2013 that [C.Y.'s] conduct was not a manifestation of [C.Y.'s] disability and alleged failure to conduct an FBA and/or develop a BIP for [C.Y.] following a one week suspension, which exceeded 10 days of suspension in the same school year;
iii. Alleged failure to develop an appropriate IEP on or about November 26, 2013 because the IEP failed to provide a full-time therapeutic setting for students with ED and ADHD and failed to provide sufficient behavior support services in light of [C.Y.'s] escalating behaviors; and
iv. Alleged failure to conduct a timely FBA and convene a follow-up meeting to develop a BIP during SYs 2012/13 and 2013/14 (although Petitioner acknowledged DCPS supplied an FBA and a BIP at the resolution session).

HOD at 1.

         As relief, Plaintiffs requested that the DCPS be ...

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