United States District Court, D. Columbia
DL, TAMEKA FORD, Parent and Next Friend of D.L., JB, LEAH
BLAND, Parent and Next Friend of JB, FD, FREDERICK DAVY,
Parent and Next Friend of FD, MONICA DAVY, Parent and Next
Friend of FD, TF, ANGELIQUE MOORE, Parent and Next Friend of
TF - On their own behalf and on behalf of a class of
similarly situated individuals, Plaintiffs: Bruce J. Terris,
TERRIS, PRAVLIK & MILLIAN, LLP, Washington, DC; Cyrus Mehri,
MEHRI & SKALET, PLLC, Washington, DC; Jane M. Liu, DRINKER
BIDDLE & REATH, LLP, Washington, DC; Jeffrey S. Gutman,
GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL, Washington, DC;
Margaret A. Kohn, LAW OFFICE OF MARGARET KOHN, Washington,
DC; Todd A. Gluckman, TERRIS, PRAVIK & MILLIAN, LLP,
Plaintiff, Pro se.
TIMOTHY LANTRY, ARLETTE MANKEMI, KERIANNE PIESTER, TL, RONALD
WISOR, XY, BRYAN YOUNG, TAMMIKA YOUNG, Plaintiffs: Bruce J.
Terris, LEAD ATTORNEY, TERRIS, PRAVLIK & MILLIAN, LLP,
Washington, DC; Cyrus Mehri, MEHRI & SKALET, PLLC,
Washington, DC; Jane M. Liu, DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH, LLP,
Washington, DC; Todd A. Gluckman, TERRIS, PRAVIK & MILLIAN,
LLP, Washington, DC.
LANTRY, Plaintiff, Pro se.
MANKEMI, Plaintiff, Pro se.
PIESTER, Plaintiff, Pro se.
Plaintiff, Pro se.
WISOR, Plaintiff, Pro se.
Plaintiff, Pro se.
YOUNG, Plaintiff, Pro se.
YOUNG, Plaintiff, Pro se.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, A Municipal Corporation, Defendant:
Chad Wayne Copeland, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Daniel
Albert Rezneck, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL,
Washington, DC; Matthew Robert Blecher, OFFICE OF THE
ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington,
DC; Robert C. Utiger, DC OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL,
Washington, DC; Samuel C. Kaplan, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
MICHELLE RHEE, Chancellor, DEBORAH GIST, District of Columbia
State Superintendent of Education, Defendants: Chad Wayne
Copeland, Matthew Robert Blecher, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY
GENERAL FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Washington, DC; Samuel
C. Kaplan, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL - DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA, Washington, DC.
C. Lamberth, United States District Judge.
before the Court is the defendants' Motion to Decertify
Subclass 1 . The plaintiffs in this case are residents
of the District of Columbia and former preschool-age children
with various disabilities who allege that the District of
Columbia (" the District" ) has failed to provide
them a free and public education (" FAPE" ) in
violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act ("
IDEA" ). In November 2013, the Court issued a Memorandum
Opinion  that certified four plaintiff subclasses, the
first of which the District presently claims no longer
satisfies the commonality requirement of Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 23(a)(2). Upon consideration of the motion,
plaintiffs' opposition, defendants' reply, and the
entire record herein, the Court will DENY defendants'
Motion to Decertify Subclass 1.
lawsuit is rooted in the District's alleged failures to
meet its affirmative obligations set out in the IDEA.
Essentially, the IDEA is designed to ensure that all children
with disabilities ages 3 to 21 have available to them "
a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special
education and related services designed to meet their unique
needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and
independent living." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). To
achieve its central goal, the IDEA imposes discrete and
limited duties onto states and the District of
Columbia--duties that plaintiffs claim the District has not
satisfied and have come to form the basis of the divisions
between the four certified subclasses.
education universally available to disabled children ages 3
to 21, the IDEA and the District's laws that implement
the IDEA require a series of piecemeal, though coordinated,
procedures and policies. First, the District has a duty to
" identify and locate every handicapped" child
residing in the city. 34 C.F.R. 104.32. Next, D.C. Code and
the IDEA require that the District evaluate these identified
children, 20 U.S.C. § 1414(a)-(c), and coordinate
efforts to determine whether or not they are eligible for
disability services. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(a)-(c), 5 D.C.M.R.
3003.1. To make the eligibility determination, the District
must convene a team that includes parents and teachers to
review, among other things, the results of the evaluations,
in order to determine whether a given child is disabled and
requires special education and related services. 20 U.S.C.
§ 1414(d). Taken together, the District's duties to
identify, locate, evaluate, and provide an eligibility
determination to disabled children are known as the "
Child Find" obligation. See, e.g., Mem. Op. 2,
ECF No. 389.
eligibility is determined, the District is required to offer
special education and related services. The District must
participate with parents, educators, and other professionals
to draft an Individualized Education Program ("
IEP" ), tailored to meet the unique needs of the
disabled child, and provide the child with a FAPE. 20 U.S.C.
§ 1414(d). Lastly, in order to ensure that disabled
children ages 3 to 21 are afforded a FAPE, the law serves
children under the age of 3 through a program entitled the
IDEA Part C. Part C requires the District to provide disabled
children ages zero to three with " appropriate early
intervention services" and to develop an Individual
Family Service Plan. 20 U.S.C. § 1435. The law requires
that children moving from Part C into preschool programs
designed for three year olds receive a " smooth and
effective transition" by their third birthday. 20 U.S.C.
merits of the present lawsuit have mainly focused on whether
or not the District has fulfilled these obligations; that
said, the lawsuit's procedural history has been guided,
at least in part, by important issues relating to class
certification. After this lawsuit was filed in 2005, in
August 2006 this Court certified a plaintiff class pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2), defining it as:
All children who are or may be eligible for special education
and related services, who live in, or are wards of, the
District of Columbia, and (1) whom defendants did not
identify, locate, evaluate or offer special education and
related services to when the child was between the ages of
three and five years old, inclusive, or (2) whom defendants
have not or will not identify, locate, evaluate or offer
special education and related services to when the child is
between the ages of three and five years old, inclusive.
DL v. District of Columbia, 237 F.R.D. 319, 324
(D.D.C. 2006); see also Memorandum Order 3-4, ECF
this group of children serving as the plaintiff class, the
Court relied on statistical analyses and compliance metrics
to find that the District's policies were inadequate to
meet its obligations under the IDEA. See Mem. Op.
4-5, ECF No. 389 (citing DL v. District of Columbia,
845 F.Supp.2d 1, 10-17 (D.D.C. 2011). The Court found, in
effect, that the District's failure to institute adequate
Child Find practices resulted in the denial of a FAPE to a
substantial number of disabled children and that the District
failed to comply with its legal duty to provide a smooth and
effective transition to a significant portion of disabled
children. DL, 845 F.Supp.2d at 21-23. Moreover, the
Court found that the District demonstrated bad faith or gross
misjudgment by knowingly failing to comply with the IDEA and
therefore violated section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act,
which prohibits discrimination in programs receiving federal
funding. Ultimately, the Court issued a structural
injunction, which included programmatic requirements and
numerical goals that would remain in effect until the
District demonstrated sustained compliance. Id. at
the trial but before this Court issued its final decision,
the Supreme Court decided Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v.
Dukes, 564 U.S. 338, 131 S.Ct. 2541, 180 L.Ed.2d 374
(2011), which clarified the proper interpretation of the
commonality requirement for class certification under Rule
23(a)(2). In Wal-Mart, the Court held that class
certification under Rule 23(a)(2) was inappropriate for a
putative class of one and a half million women, all current
or former employees of Wal-Mart who alleged that " the
discretion exercised by their local supervisors over pay and
promotion matters violate[d] Title VII by discriminating
against women." 131 S.Ct. at 2546. In its ruling, the
Court emphasized that the pay and promotion decisions
impacting women were not dictated by a uniform corporate
policy but were made by thousands of geographically-dispersed
managers. The Court found that " [w]ithout some glue
holding the alleged reasons for all those decisions
together, it will be impossible to say that examination of
all the class members' claims for relief will produce a
common answer to the ...