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Hayden C. v. Western Placer Unified School Dist.

May 11, 2009


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge


This is an action brought pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415, et seq. ("IDEA") on behalf of Plaintiff Hayden C. ("Plaintiff") to challenge the special educational services being provided to Plaintiff as a child with autism. Defendant Western Placer Unified School District ("Defendant" or "District") now moves to dismiss that action, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1), on grounds that the jurisdictional prerequisites for instituting a lawsuit in this Court have not been satisfied because Plaintiff's administrative remedies under the IDEA have not been exhausted.

Alternatively, the District also argues that Plaintiff cannot state a viable claim in the absence of the required exhaustion and therefore is also entitled to dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6). As set forth below, Defendant's Motion will be granted.


Plaintiff's parents originally filed for a due process hearing on or about July 15, 2008, alleging IDEA violations with regard to the educational services their child was receiving. That administrative complaint was presented on Plaintiff's behalf to the Office of Administrative Hearings ("OAH") in accordance with the provisions of the IDEA. Plaintiff subsequently withdrew her action pursuant to a Settlement Agreement executed by the parties, which detailed educational programs and services to be provided to the Plaintiff.

After the aforementioned settlement was reached, Plaintiff's parents complained about the way the educational services contemplated by the agreement were being implemented. On December 18, 2008, Plaintiff filed the instant action, asking this Court to enforce alleged breaches of the Settlement Agreement and asserting six causes of action pursuant to the IDEA, all arising out of Defendant's alleged failure to adhere to the provisions of the Settlement Agreement. Plaintiff did not institute any administrative action concerning any of the issues raised in her Complaint prior to filing her lawsuit here.

The District consequently has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on grounds that she has failed to exhaust required administrative remedies, and that consequently the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to entertain her federal lawsuit. The District further claims that the same failure also makes it impossible for Plaintiff to assert a viable claim, since no claim in federal court can be maintained absent administrative exhaustion.

Plaintiff, in opposition, claims that because she simply seeks to enforce the terms of the Settlement Agreement there is no need to proceed administratively before doing so. Plaintiff points to the fact that the Settlement Agreement itself provides that it may be enforced in a district court of the United States. Settlement Agreement, ¶ 18, Exh. "A" to Decl. of Bob N. Varma in Opp'n to Def.'s Mot.) She contends that because the alleged breaches relate only to bargained for services and placement spelled out in the Settlement Agreement, the underlying issue of whether a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE") is being provided is not implicated so as to trigger any need to exhaust administrative remedies under the IDEA.


A. Rule 12(b)(1)

In moving to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12 (b)(1), the challenging party may either make a "facial attack" on the allegations of jurisdiction contained in the complaint or can instead take issue with subject matter jurisdiction on a factual basis ("factual attack").

Thornhill Publishing Co. v. General Tel. & Elect. Corp., 594 F.2d 730, 733 (9th Cir. 1979); Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. & Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). If the motion constitutes a facial attack, the Court must consider the factual allegations of the complaint to be true. Williamson v. Tucker, 645 F.2d 404, 412 (5th Cir. 1981); Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891. If the motion constitutes a factual attack, however, "no presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the trial court from evaluating for itself the merits of jurisdictional claims." Thornhill, 594 F.2d at 733 (quoting Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

On a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact must be accepted as true and construed in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Cahill v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 80 F.3d 336, 337-38 (9th Cir. 1996). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," in order to "give the defendant fair notice of what the...claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed. 2d 80 (1957).

While a complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's obligation to provide the "grounds" of his "entitlement to relief" requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 127 S.Ct. 1955, 1964-65 (2007) (internal citations and quotations omitted). Factual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level. Id. at 1965 (citing 5 C. Wright & A. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure ยง 1216, pp. 235-236 (3d ed. ...

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