The opinion of the court was delivered by: SUSAN ILLSTON, District Judge
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS
On October 14, 2005, the Court heard oral argument on defendant
San Ramon Valley Unified School District's motion for judgment on
the pleadings. After the hearing, the parties submitted
supplemental briefing on the effect, if any, of the 2005
amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act
("IDEA"). Having considered the arguments of counsel and all the
briefing, the Court hereby GRANTS defendant's motion.
On January 31, 2005, plaintiffs N.R., L.C., R.P., E.P., and
N.B., all minors, filed a complaint against defendant San Ramon
Valley Unified School District ("District"). Plaintiffs allege
that they are each students with one or more disabilities, and
that they are each currently receiving behavioral services from
Synergistic Interventions ("SI"), a non-public agency certified
by the State of California to provide intensive behavioral
support services to special needs children in both home and
school settings. See Complaint ¶ 18. Plaintiffs allege that
these services are being provided to each of the plaintiffs
pursuant to either an Individual Education Program ("IEP") or a settlement agreement with the
defendant,*fn1 or both. Id.
Plaintiffs allege that on January 27, 2005, defendant advised
plaintiffs that after February 1, 2005, SI would no longer be
available to provide services to any students within the
district. Id. at ¶ 20. Plaintiffs allege that SI informed them
that its "unavailability" was the result of a confidential
mediation agreement between SI and the District in a lawsuit
concerning payment for behavioral services provided to district
students. Id. Plaintiffs allege that defendant advised
plaintiffs that the District would select new behavioral services
providers to begin working with plaintiffs beginning February 2,
2005, regardless of whether the District received parental
consent to the new service providers. Id.*fn2
Plaintiffs seek to prevent defendant from replacing SI with new
behavioral services providers, and they allege that defendant is
"obligated to continue all current services to plaintiffs as the
last agreed upon and implemented services." Id. at ¶ 23.
Plaintiffs have alleged three causes of action: (1) declaratory
relief under the IDEA and the California Education Code; (2)
injunctive relief under the IDEA and California Education Code §§
56000 et seq.; and (3) breach of contract for alleged
violations of settlement agreements between some plaintiffs and
defendant. Id. at ¶¶ 22-33.
"After the pleadings are closed but within such time as not to
delay the trial, any party may move for judgment on the
pleadings." Fed.R.Civ.Proc. 12(c). Rules 12(b)(6) and 12(c)
are substantially identical. See William W. Schwarzer, A.
Wallace Tashima & James M. Wagstaffe, Federal Civil Procedure
Before Trial § 9:319. Under either provision, a court must
determine whether the facts alleged in the complaint, to be taken
for these purposes as true, entitle the plaintiff to a legal
remedy. Id. If the complaint fails to articulate a legally
sufficient claim, the complaint should be dismissed or judgment
granted on the pleadings. DISCUSSION
1. First and Second Causes of Action Under the IDEA and
California Education Code
The District contends that plaintiffs' first and second causes
of action should be dismissed for failure to exhaust
administrative remedies under the IDEA. The IDEA provides that a
complainant may file an action under the Constitution, the
Americans with Disabilities Act, Title V of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, or other federal laws which protect the rights of
children with disabilities "except that before the filing of a
civil action under such laws seeking relief that is also
available under this subchapter, the procedures under subsections
(f) and (g) of this section shall be exhausted to the same extent
as would be required had the action been brought under this
subchapter." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(1) (as amended July 1, 2005).
Under the IDEA, parents are entitled to complain "with respect
to any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or
educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free
appropriate public education to the child." Id. at §
1415(b)(6)(A). After making their complaint, parents are entitled
to "an impartial due process hearing." Id. at § 1415(f). A
decision of the due process hearing "shall be final," id. at §
1415(i)(1)(A), except that "[a]ny party aggrieved by the findings
and decision . . . shall have the right to bring a civil action
with respect to the complaint presented pursuant to this section,
which action may be brought in any State court of competent
jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States." Id.
at § 1415(i)(2)(A).
California Education Code §§ 56500-56507 sets forth the
administrative scheme for due process hearings under the IDEA.
Under these provisions, parents may initiate a due process
hearing regarding a proposal to change identification, assessment
or educational placement of a child, and such hearing will be
conducted at the state level. See Cal. Educ. Code § 5601(a)(1),
Here, plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief
regarding educational services specified in their IEPs.
Plaintiffs request the Court to "maintain SI as the current
behavior support services provider for plaintiffs until the
agreed-upon transition process has been successfully completed."
Complaint, Prayer ¶ 1. Plaintiffs allege that defendant is in
violation of the IDEA's "stay put" provision, which plaintiffs
contend prohibits defendant from changing services providers.
Id. at ¶ 26. The relief plaintiffs seek is available under the
IDEA, and thus plaintiffs are required to exhaust their
administrative remedies. See Hoeft, 967 F.2d at 1309
(plaintiffs required to exhaust administrative remedies because
"the administrative process has the potential for producing the very result plaintiffs seek, namely, statutory compliance.");
see also Tyler B. v. San Antonio Elem. Sch. Dist.,
253 F. Supp. 2d 1111, 1118 (N.D. Cal. 2003).
Plaintiffs contend that they are not required to exhaust
administrative remedies because it is "improbable" that they will
obtain adequate relief through administrative procedures. In
support of this argument, plaintiffs assert that "it is extremely
unlikely that, as a result of a due process hearing, any
plaintiff could obtain equitable or legal relief to adequately
address a situation where, as here, plaintiffs have alleged that
defendant district has attempted to contract with a third party
for the purpose of intentionally and wrongfully interfering with
plaintiffs' contractual and statutory rights." Plaintiffs'
Opposition at 2. Plaintiffs offer no case law or statutory
authority for this proposition. Moreover, plaintiffs have not
demonstrated that any of the exceptions to the administrative
exhaustion requirement, as described in Hoeft, are ...