United States District Court, District of Columbia
A. HOWELL CHIEF JUDGE.
plaintiff, J.T., is the mother of V.T., an elementary-school
student who suffers “from an autism spectrum disorder
that interferes with his education, ” Am. Compl. ¶
4, ECF No. 14, and is entitled to protections under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
In this lawsuit, J.T. appeals three separate Hearing Officer
Determinations (“HOD”) resolving separate
administrative complaints under the IDEA. The first HOD,
dated June 13, 2017 (“June 2017 HOD”), summarily
rejected J.T.'s due process claim that the District of
Columbia Public Schools (“DCPS”) violated the
IDEA by failing to schedule an April 2017 meeting to revise
V.T.'s individualized education program
(“IEP”) “at a mutually agreeable
location.” Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 16, 18. The
second HOD, dated November 27, 2017 (“November 2017
HOD”) largely rejected J.T.'s claim that an IEP
developed on May 3, 2017 (“2017 IEP”) for V.T.
failed to provide V.T. with a free appropriate public
education, or FAPE, as required by 20 U.S.C.
§1412(a)(1)(A). Id. ¶¶ 3, 17.
Finally, the third HOD, dated April 15, 2018 (“April
2018 HOD”), arising from an administrative proceeding
brought by the District against J.T., ordered J.T. to
participate in a future IEP meeting to revise the 2017 IEP.
Id. ¶¶ 3, 19.
referral of this case to a Magistrate Judge, see
Referral Order, ECF No. 4, the parties filed cross-motions
for summary judgment, see Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J.
(“Pl.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 26; Def.'s
Cross-Mot. Summ. J. & Opp'n Pl.'s Mot. Summ. J.
(“Def.'s Mot.”), ECF No. 27. The Magistrate
Judge issued a report, finding that J.T.'s challenge to
the June 2017 HOD is “wrong both factually and legally,
” Report and Recommendation (“R&R”), at
22, ECF No. 34, and that her challenge to the November 2017
HOD and April 2018 HOD are each moot, id. at 26-30,
36-38, and, in any event, meritless, id. at 30-35,
39-47. Thus, the Magistrate Judge recommended denying
J.T.'s motion for summary judgment and granting the
District's motion. Id. at 47.
timely objected to the R&R. See Pl.'s Obj.
to R&R (“Pl.'s Obj.”), ECF No. 35;
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(2); LCvR 72.3(b). Those objections,
however, are limited to the recommended resolution of
J.T.'s challenge to the November 2017 HOD rejecting her
administrative complaint that the 2017 IEP failed to provide
V.T. with a FAPE. Id. at 1. Consequently, J.T. has
waived any objection to the portions of the R&R resolving
disputes about the location of the 2017 IEP meeting, at issue
in the June 2017 HOD, and the order that J.T. participate in
a subsequent IEP meeting, at issue in the April 2018 HOD.
See Thomas v. Arn, 474 U.S. 140, 149-55 (1985)
(explaining that a party may waive the right to appellate
review of a Magistrate Judge's decision if the party
fails to timely object); see also LCvR 72.3(b);
R&R at 48 (notifying parties that failure to object to
the R&R may waive the right to seek appellate review).
The Court adopts the portions of the R&R explaining why
those claims are meritless, R&R at 22-26, and moot,
id. at 26-30, respectively, and the District's
motion for summary judgment as to the claim related to the
June 2017 HOD is granted and the claim related to the April
2018 HOD is dismissed as moot.
the contested part of the R&R, the Magistrate Judge
correctly explained that J.T.'s claim regarding the
November 2017 HOD is moot because the challenged 2017 IEP
already has been modified and no claim for compensatory
education has been made. Therefore, as discussed in more
detail below, that component of J.T.'s case is dismissed
R&R gives a comprehensive account of these parties'
history. See R&R at 2-19. Only the facts that
bear on the mootness of J.T.'s challenge to the November
2017 HOD concerning the adequacy of V.T.'s 2017 IEP are
April 2017, following the resolution of an administrative
complaint not at issue here, DCPS was ordered to convene a
meeting to revise several parts of V.T.'s IEP. ECF No.
17-4 at 71; see also R&R at 5-6. At that
meeting, which took place on April 27, 2017, ECF No. 17-2 at
24; see also R&R at 10 n.5, disagreements
emerged between V.T.'s parents and DCPS about V.T.'s
IEP, ECF No. 18-1 at 1-45; see also R&R at
10-11. Specifically, V.T.'s parents believed that V.T.
could not succeed in a classroom with a student-to-adult
ratio of 4:1 and that he needed a classroom of less than
eight students. ECF No. 18-1 at 15-16; see also
R&R at 11. Additionally, the parents advocated for the
IEP to restrict V.T.'s classmates to students unlikely to
engage in outbursts and to require that V.T. be in a quiet
classroom for all instruction, rather than just a quiet area
of the classroom. ECF No. 18-1 at 21-22; see also
R&R at 11. For lunch and recess, V.T.'s parents
wanted him with no more than 25 other students, and wanted no
more than ten students to be in the hallway at the same time
as V.T. ECF No. 18-1 at 23; see also R&R at 11.
Finally, V.T.'s parents wanted his classmates to remain
the same as V.T. moved between different instruction sessions
throughout the day. ECF No. 18-1 at 23; see also
R&R at 11-12.
3, 2017, DCPS issued a new IEP for V.T. ECF No. 17-5 at 1-30.
Against the parents' wishes, this 2017 IEP permitted a
4:1 student-to-adult ratio and capped V.T.'s class at
eight students. ECF No. 17-5 at 26; see also R&R
at 12. V.T. would be taught in a quiet part of the classroom
and no limitations were imposed on how many students V.T.
would share lunch, recess, or the hallway with. ECF No. 17-5
at 26; see also R&R at 12. Finally, the IEP did
not require that all V.T.'s classmates remain the same
across V.T.'s classes. ECF No. 17-5 at 26; see
also R&R at 12.
months later, in July 2017, V.T.'s parents filed an
administrative complaint, alleging the “[d]evelopment
of an inappropriate IEP.” ECF No. 17-1 at 3. The
complaint alleged 12 ways in which the 2017 IEP was
inadequate, including “too large a class”;
“too high a student/adult classroom ratio”;
“does not prescribe a quiet classroom”;
“does not appropriately limit group sizes outside of
the classroom”; and “does not prescribe that the
student will attend all specials with the same small group as
his academic class.” ECF No. 17-1 at 5. While that
administrative complaint was pending, DCPS agreed to fund
V.T.'s education at Kingsbury Day School for the 2017-18
school year. ECF No. 17-5 at 42.
time of the administrative hearing for J.T.'s complaint,
the complaint had been winnowed down to seven reasons that
the 2017 IEP failed to provide V.T. with an appropriate
education: the IEP (1) permitted too large a class size; (2)
permitted too high a student-to-adult classroom ratio; (3)
did not require a quiet classroom or limit noise and
distractions outside the classroom; (4) did not appropriately
limit groups permitted outside the classroom; (5) did not
appropriately limit hallway activity; (6) did not mandate
that V.T. would remain with the same small group of students
for the entire school day; and (7) did not prescribe a
location where V.T. would receive educational services. ECF
No. 18-2 at 60-61; see also R&R at 13-14.
hearing officer resolved the administrative complaint in the
November 2017 HOD, deciding that, “[i]n light of
DCPS' responsibility for ensuring that Student's IEP
adequately meets Student's needs and is not overly
restrictive, . . . the May 3, 2017, amended IEP was
reasonably calculated to provide Student educational benefit
based upon the information available to the full IEP team at
the time it was developed.” ECF No. 18-2 at 70.
10 and 13, 2018, V.T.'s IEP team met and amended
V.T.'s IEP. Def.'s Mot., Ex. 1, Annual IEP Meeting
Notes, ECF No. 27-1; see also Pl.'s Obj. at 10
n.4 (“J.T. does ...