United States District Court, District of Columbia
VELMA OLU-COLE, Parent and next friend of M.K. Plaintiff,
E.L. HAYNES PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, Defendant.
N. McFADDEN, U.S.D.J.
Olu-Cole sued the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School
(“Haynes”) on behalf of her minor son, M.K. She
alleges that Haynes violated M.K.'s rights under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(“IDEA”). She seeks compensatory education for
M.K. and attorneys' fees for litigating an administrative
due process claim on his behalf.
moved to dismiss these claims, arguing in the alternative
that it should be granted summary judgment. Ms. Olu-Cole
cross-moved for partial summary judgment. After assessing the
parties' arguments, Magistrate Judge Harvey recommended
that Haynes's motion be denied and Ms. Olu-Cole's
cross-motion be granted. The Court agrees and, for the
reasons explained below, adopts the Magistrate Judge's
Report and Recommendation in full.
Report and Recommendation comprehensively describes the
background and history of this case. See R. & R.
at 2-7, ECF No. 28. To summarize, M.K. is a high school
student at Haynes. Id. at 2. He has a disability,
“Emotional Disturbance, ” that the IDEA covers.
Id. Because of this, Haynes must develop and
implement an individualized educational program to help M.K.
meet his academic needs. Id.
has a history of behavioral problems. See Hearing
Officer Determination, ECF No. 19-1 at 60. In 2017, he
attacked another student, repeatedly punching the student in
the face. Id. at 62. The victim was “left with
a concussion and suffered memory loss.” Id.
After the fight, Haynes suspended M.K. for 45 days. R. &
R. at 3. The school investigated the incident and found that
his conduct was a manifestation of his disability.
then sought to remove M.K. and have him placed in a
“therapeutic, nonpublic, special education day
school.” Id. at 4. Because Ms. Olu-Cole did
not consent, the school submitted its request to the District
of Columbia's Office of the State Superintendent of
Education (the “Superintendent's Office”).
Id. at 3. The Superintendent's Office refused to
require a change of school. Id. at 4. It found that
“with a robust [individualized educational program],
supported by other appropriate interventions, [Haynes] can
successfully serve students with similar
Haynes continued to seek M.K.'s removal. It filed an
administrative due process complaint with the
Superintendent's Office. ECF No. 19-1 at 9-13. The school
argued that M.K.'s “verbally and physically
aggressive behavior pose a significant safety risk to
others” and to himself. Id. at 12. It
therefore requested that the Superintendent's Office
require Ms. Olu-Cole to consent to a change in M.K.'s
school placement. Id.
this administrative due process claim was pending, Ms.
Olu-Cole filed her case here. See Compl., ECF No. 1.
She noted in her complaint that “Haynes is refusing to
allow M.K. to attend classes” in violation of
IDEA's “stay put provision.” Id. at
1. This provision requires that, during any due process
proceedings, a child “shall remain in [his]
then-current educational placement.” 20 U.S.C. §
1415(j). Ms. Olu-Cole argued that Haynes violated the
stay-put provision by keeping M.K. out of school past his
45-day suspension. Compl. 12. She sought a Temporary
Restraining Order and a Preliminary Injunction to allow him
to return to school. Compl. 12.
hearing oral arguments, the Court denied these requests for
relief. See Court's February 2, 2018 Minute
Order; Olu-Cole v. E.L. Haynes Pub. Charter Sch.,
292 F.Supp.3d 413 (D.D.C.), appeal filed, No.
18-7028 (D.C. Cir. Feb. 26, 2018). But Haynes then changed
course. It agreed to allow M.K. to return to school and moved
to withdraw its administrative complaint without prejudice.
ECF No. 19-1 at 15, 17.
Olu-Cole opposed the motion. See ECF No. 19-1 at 20.
She argued that the school's complaint should be
dismissed with prejudice so that the dismissal would have
preclusive effect. Id. Haynes consented.
Id. So, based on the parties' agreement, the
Superintendent's Office's Hearing Officer dismissed
the administrative due process complaint with prejudice.
Id. at 22.
Olu-Cole then filed her own due process complaint with the
Hearing Officer. See id. at 35-40. She argued that
the measures Haynes had taken to address M.K.'s
disability were inadequate, and that the school had therefore
denied M.K. the “free appropriate public
education” the IDEA requires. Id. at 38-39.
She sought compensatory education “to remedy the
denial(s) of [a free appropriate public education] up to, but
excluding, the denial . . . stemming from the
violation of M.K.'s stay-put rights after January 26[,
2018].” Id. at 39 (emphasis in original).
Hearing Officer found that M.K. was entitled to compensatory
education. Id. at 71. He ordered Haynes to provide
M.K. “fifty hours of individual tutoring” and
“twenty hours of counseling.” Id.
pending here are Ms. Olu-Cole's claim for
“compensatory education for any violations of [the
IDEA's] stay put [provision]” and her request for
attorneys' fees. Am. Compl. 13-15, ECF. No. 15. Haynes
seeks dismissal of these claims. See Def.'s Mot.
to Dismiss (“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 19. The
school argues that the compensatory education request is now
moot because of the Hearing Officer's decision.
Id. at 1. Haynes also suggests that the Court should
not permit Ms. Olu-Cole to seek attorneys' fees.
Id. It asserts that, because the ...