United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
RANDOLPH D. MOSS, United States District Judge.
Stephon Brown, a lifelong resident of the District of
Columbia, was convicted of a felony under the D.C. Code and
incarcerated in a Bureau of Prisons (“BOP”)
facility pursuant to the National Capital Revitalization and
Self Government Improvement Act of 1997, Pub. L. No. 105-33,
§ 11201, 111 Stat. 251, 734 (1997) (codified at D.C.
Code § 24-101) [hereinafter “Revitalization
Act”]. While incarcerated, Brown was not afforded
“any special education services” under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.,
because both the BOP and the District denied responsibility
for providing him a free and appropriate education
(“FAPE”). Dkt. 25 at 1, 5. The BOP argued that,
as a federal entity, it is not subject to the IDEA, Dkt. 16
at 8-9, and the District argued that its responsibilities to
Brown ended when he entered into BOP custody, Dkt. 14 at 6-7.
Caught in a legal limbo, Brown sued both Defendants for
violating the IDEA. Dkt. 1 (Compl.).
Court previously held that, under the plain language of the
IDEA, the District-and not the BOP-was obligated to
provide Brown a FAPE while he was in BOP custody. See
Brown v. District of Columbia, 324 F.Supp.3d 154,
159-60, 162 (D.D.C. 2018). The District now asks the Court to
reconsider that decision, arguing that (1) § 1415(k)(6)
of the IDEA “precludes” the Court's
interpretation “because the Court's interpretation
would . . . conflict with the legitimate law enforcement aims
of the BOP and the Superior Court for the District of
Columbia, ” Dkt. 39 at 1; (2) the Court misconstrued
the District's argument as positing that the
Revitalization Act impliedly repealed the IDEA as applied to
D.C. felons incarcerated by the BOP, id. at 13; and
(3) in any event, the Revitalization Act did, in fact, shift
responsibility from the District to the BOP for the education
of D.C. felons incarcerated by the BOP, id. at
14-16. The Court is unpersuaded and will, accordingly,
DENY the District's motion for
reconsideration. Dkt. 39.
background of this matter is discussed in detail in
Magistrate Judge Harvey's Report and Recommendation
(“R&R”), Dkt. 25, and in this Court's
prior opinion, see Brown, 324 F.Supp.3d at 158-59.
To summarize, Plaintiff is a lifelong resident of the
District who has been eligible for special education and
related services since elementary school. Id. at
158. In 2014, when he was eighteen, Plaintiff was arrested
and charged with violating D.C. law. Id. While
awaiting trial, Plaintiff was held at the D.C. Central
Detention Facility, where he continued to receive special
education services pursuant to his Individualized Education
Program (“IEP”). Dkt. 25 at 5. After he was tried
and convicted as an adult, however, Plaintiff was transferred
to the Hazelton Federal Correctional Institution
(“FCI”), and those services ceased. Id.
Only after his release in November 2016, when Plaintiff
resumed his high school education, did he once again receive
special education services pursuant to the IDEA. Id.
before his release from FCI Hazelton, Plaintiff filed a due
process complaint against the District and the BOP, alleging
that he was denied access to a FAPE while incarcerated.
Id. at 6. The Hearing Officer dismissed
Plaintiff's complaint against the BOP on the ground that
the federal government is not subject to the IDEA and
dismissed his complaint against the District on the ground
that the IDEA does not impose any responsibilities on state
or local officials while an individual with disabilities is
incarcerated at a federal correctional facility. Id.
at 6-8. Plaintiff then brought suit in this Court, seeking to
set aside the Hearing Officer's determination, and the
Court referred the matter to a magistrate judge for an
R&R. Brown, 324 F.Supp.3d at 158.
explained in greater detail in this Court's prior
opinion, Magistrate Judge Harvey rejected the Hearing
Officer's conclusion that the combination of the IDEA and
the Revitalization Act created a “Special Education No.
Man's Land” in which neither the BOP nor the
District has any obligation to provide benefits under the
IDEA to individuals convicted of violating D.C. law who are
incarcerated at a BOP facility. Id. The R&R
concluded that the IDEA does not apply to the BOP; rather,
the statute applies only to states eligible to receive
federal funds under the IDEA. Dkt. 25 at 14-20. That
conclusion, however, did not leave children incarcerated in
federal facilities without IDEA benefits because the R&R
reasoned that “a FAPE is triggered by a child's
residency, ” and that obligation is not terminated when
the child is in federal custody. Id. at 21.
filed timely objections to the R&R's conclusion that
the IDEA does not bind the BOP, Dkt. 26, and the District
filed timely objections to the R&R's conclusion that
its obligations under the IDEA continued while Plaintiff was
held in BOP custody, Dkt. 27. The Court adopted in full the
R&R's conclusion and analysis with respect to the
BOP. Brown, 324 F.Supp.3d at 157. With respect to
the District, the Court's analysis differed from the
R&R in two respects. First, the Court concluded that it
was unnecessary to resolve the question whether all states
are responsible for ensuring that their residents who are
incarcerated in federal prisons receive FAPEs. Id.
at 160. Although noting that the R&R's reasoning
carried “considerable force, ” the Court limited
its analysis to the question whether children who are
convicted as adults for violations of D.C. law and who are
incarcerated by the BOP pursuant to the Revitalization Act
are-like all other children serving prison sentences for
state-law violations-entitled to FAPEs. Id. Second,
the Court concluded that it needed to resolve the question
whether the requirement that Plaintiff exhaust his
administrative remedies under the Rehabilitation Act posed a
jurisdictional bar to that claim, and the Court concluded
that the requirement, in this context, is non-jurisdictional.
Id. at 162-64. Having reached that conclusion, the
Court went on to consider Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act
claim on the merits and agreed with the conclusion set forth
in the R&R that the claim lacked merit. Id. at
163. The Court, accordingly, granted the BOP's motion to
dismiss and granted in part and denied in part the
District's motion to dismiss. Id.
a month later, the District filed the instant motion for
reconsideration. Dkt. 39. Plaintiff opposed that motion, Dkt.
47, and the District filed a reply brief, Dkt. 48.
the Court has yet to enter final judgment, the District's
motion for reconsideration is governed by Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(b), which permits the Court to revisit any
order that adjudicates “fewer than all the claims or
rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . at
any time” before the entry of final judgment.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 54(b). Reconsideration of interlocutory orders
is permitted “as justice requires.” Cobell v.
Jewell, 802 F.3d 12, 25 (D.C. Cir. 2015) (citation
omitted). Courts in this Circuit have recognized that relief
is appropriate “when the movant demonstrates:
‘(1) an intervening change in the law; (2) the
discovery of new evidence not previously available; or (3) a
clear error in the first order.'” Murphy v.
Exec. Office for U.S. Attorneys, 11 F.Supp.3d 7, 8
(D.D.C. 2014) (quoting Zeigler v. Potter, 555
F.Supp.2d 126, 129 (D.D.C. 2008)); see also Keystone
Tobacco Co. v. U.S. Tobacco Co., 217 F.R.D. 235, 237
(D.D.C. 2003). Although the decision whether to reconsider an
order lies within the Court's sound discretion,
considerations of judicial economy and the obligation of the
courts “to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive
determination of every action, ” Fed.R.Civ.P. 1,
require “good reason” before reopening matters
once resolved. In Def. of Animals v. Nat'l Insts. of
Health, 543 F.Supp.2d 70, 76 (D.D.C. 2008).
District moves for reconsideration on three grounds.
First, it argues that the Court “failed to
address the District's argument regarding the
implications of 20 U.S.C. § 1415(k)(6), ” which,
according to the District, precludes the application of the
IDEA to individuals in BOP custody. Dkt. 39 at 5
(capitalization omitted); see also Id. at 5-13; Dkt.
48 at 3. Second, the District contends that the
Court's holding that the Revitalization Act did not
impliedly repeal the IDEA as applied to D.C. Code felons
incarcerated by the BOP “was a question not squarely
presented to the Court and [was] not necessary to resolving
the parties' dispute.” Dkt. 39 at 13- 14.
Third, the District argues that “reading the
relevant statutes all together, the District ceased
being responsible for the education of D.C. Code felons in
BOP custody by application of the Revitalization Act.”
Dkt. 48 at 2. For the reasons explained below, the Court is