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Smith ex rel. Thompson v. Los Angeles Inified School District

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

January 16, 2014

CHANDA SMITH, through her guardian ad litem ELIZA THOMPSON, individually and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, a California public entity; SID THOMPSON, in his official capacity of the Los Angeles Unified School District, Defendants.

ORDER RE: MOTION TO INTERVENE [285] AND MOTION TO INTERVENE AND FOR ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE [300]

RONALD S.W. LEW, Senior District Judge.

Currently before the Court are two Motions to Intervene [285, 300] by two groups of proposed intervenors (the "April Munoz Proposed Intervenors" or "AMPI" and the Mina Lee Proposed Intervenors" or "MLPI") filed October 15, 2013 and October 23, 2013, respectively. Plaintiffs filed their Opposition to the Motions on November 19, 2013 [316]. Defendant Los Angeles Unified School District ("LAUSD") filed its Opposition on November 19, 2013 [327]. The MLPI filed a Reply on November 26, 2013 [333] and the AMPI did so on December 5, 2013 [346]. This matter was taken under submission on December 5, 2013 [345]. Having reviewed all papers submitted pertaining to the Motion, and having considered all arguments presented to the Court, the Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS:

Proposed Intervenors' Motions to Intervene are DENIED.

I. Background

This Action stems from a lawsuit filed in 1993 on behalf of students enrolled in the LAUSD who alleged that the LAUSD failed to comply with the special education mandates prescribed by IDEA and state education laws. See Dkt. #1. The LAUSD and Plaintiffs (the "Parties") ultimately negotiated a settlement, which this Court entered as a Consent Decree on April 25, 1996. Dkt. #84. The Parties agreed to develop a series of plans to improve the District special education program. Blakemore Decl. ¶ 2.

Implementation of the Consent Decree continued for five years, but in 2001, the LAUSD sought to modify the Consent Decree. Id. at ¶ 9; Myers Decl. ¶¶ 8-10. Ultimately, the Parties agreed to the Modified Consent Decree ("MCD"), which the Court entered on May 15, 2003. See Dkts. ##265-266. The MCD appointed an Independent Monitor to, inter alia, oversee the MCD's implementation, refine and modify outcomes, evaluate the LAUSD's progress in achieving the outcomes, and develop new data measures to gauge progress. See Dkt. #266, ¶¶ 9-20, 30-68, 83-85, 87-88. The Independent Monitor is also tasked with presenting an Annual Report to the Superintendent and Board of Education concerning the progress and effectiveness of the implementation of the MCD. Id. at ¶ 83. The MCD also provides for a "Parents' Council, " which was given a strong role in monitoring and implementing the MCD. See id. at ¶¶ 21-29. Additionally, the MCD set forth 17 measurable "Outcomes" for the LAUSD to meet by June 30, 2006. Id. at ¶¶ 35-65.

Outcome 7 is particularly relevant to these Motions. As originally written, that provision read:

Outcome No. 7: Placement of Students with Disabilities (ages 6-22) with all Other Eligibilities. By June 30, 2006, the District will demonstrate a ratio of not less than 52% of students placed in the combined categories of 0-20% and 21-60% and not more than 48% students placed in the 61-100% category according to federal placement reporting requirements. In determining whether the District has achieved this outcome, any fractional percentage of.51 or above shall be rounded up to its nearest whole number.

Dkt. #266 ¶ 44.

In 2008, the Parties negotiated a modification of Outcome 7, which was facilitated and approved by the Independent Monitor. See Cox Decl. ¶¶ 7, 8; Hehir Decl. ¶ 20; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 21; Weintraub Decl. ¶ 8. The Parties sought to negotiate this modification because the LAUSD's performance continued to fall below the Outcome 7 targets. Cox Decl. ¶ 7; Hehir Decl. ¶¶ 20, 22; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 21; see also Weintraub Decl. ¶ 7. The revised version of Outcome 7 was composed of two parts: Outcome 7A and Outcome 7B. Cox Decl. ¶ 9, Exs. D-E; Hehir Decl. ¶ 20; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 21; Weintraub Decl. ¶ 9. Outcome 7A required that at least 51% of students (ages 6-18) with disabilities other than speech language impairments, learning disabilities, or other health impairments, be placed in general education classrooms for at least 60% or more of the instructional day. Cox Decl. ¶ 9, Ex. E; Hehir Decl. ¶ 20; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 21; Weintraub Decl. ¶ 9. Outcome 7B required that at least 23% of students (ages 6-18) with multiple disabilities orthopedic ("MDO") be placed in general education classrooms for at least 40% or more of the instructional day. Id . The terms of this stipulated agreement were set forth in the Independent Monitor's October 1, 2008 Annual Report Part I. Cox Decl. ¶ 8, Ex. D.

Unfortunately, implementation of Outcome 7 remained problematic. See Weintraub Decl. ¶ 11; Hehir Decl. ¶¶ 22-23; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 23; Myers Decl. ¶¶ 16-18. As a result, starting in October 2011, the Parties and the Independent Monitor again met to discuss changes to Outcome 7. Weintraub Decl. ¶ 13; Myers Decl. ¶ 18; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 23; Cox Decl. ¶ 12. With the assistance of Dr. David Rostetter, an authority on Least Restrictive Environment ("LRE") issues, the Parties and the Independent Monitor formulated and agreed to another modified version of Outcome 7 in October 2012. Weintraub Decl. ¶ 13; Cox Decl. ¶ 13-15; Myers Decl. ¶ 22; Blakemore Decl. ¶¶ 24-25.

The Parties' stipulated agreement to replace Outcomes 7A and 7B ("Revised Outcome 7") again had two parts. Revised Outcome 7.1 requires the LAUSD to "[r]educe the number of students with moderate to severe disabilities ages 6-18 at special education centers[1] by a total of 33% over three years, beginning with the 2012-2013 school year." Cox Decl. ¶ 15, Ex. M; Blakemore Decl. ¶ 26; Weintraub Decl. ¶ 14; AMPI Ex. B. Revised Outcome 7.2 mandates that "[s]tudents with moderate to severe disabilities at co-located schools shall participate with their nondisabled peers in general education classes an average of 12% of the instructional day and during lunch, breaks/recess and school-wide activities."[2] Id . The terms of this stipulated agreement were set forth in the Independent Monitor's October 24, 2012 Annual Report. Cox Decl. ¶ 15, Ex. L.

On October 15, 2013, the April Munoz Proposed Intervenors filed their Motion to Intervene [285]. On October 23, 2013, the Mina Lee Proposed Intervenors filed their Motion to Intervene and for Order to Show Cause Why Defendants Should not be Sanctioned [300].

II. Legal Standard

A. Motion to Intervene: Intervention as of Right

Intervention is a procedure in which a nonparty to a lawsuit can gain party status without the consent of the original parties. United States ex rel. Eisenstein v. City of New York , 556 U.S. 928, 933 (2009) (citing Marino v. Ortiz , 484 U.S. 301, 304 (1988)). If allowed to intervene, "intervening parties have full party status in the litigation." United States v. Cal. Mobile Park Mgmt. Co. , 107 F.3d 1374 (9th Cir. 1997). "Intervention after entry of a consent decree is reserved for exceptional cases." Alaniz v. Tillie Lewis Foods , 572 F.2d 657, 659 (9th Cir. 1978) (citing United States v. Blue Chip Stamp Co. , 272 F.Supp. 432, 435-38 (C.D. Cal. 1967)).

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) states in relevant part that:

On timely motion, the court must permit anyone to intervene who... claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant's ability to protect its interest, unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.

As a general matter, the requirements for intervention as of right under Rule 24(a)(2) are as follows:

(1) [T]he [applicant's] motion must be timely; (2) the applicant must have a "significantly protectable" interest relating to the property or transaction which is the subject of the action; (3) the applicant must be so situated that the disposition of the action may as a practical matter impair or impede its ability to protect that interest; and (4) the applicant's interest must be inadequately represented by the parties to the action.

Freedom from Religion Found., Inc. v. Geithner , 644 F.3d 836, 841 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting California ex rel. Lockyer v. United States , 450 F.3d 436, 440 (9th Cir. 2006)).

The Rule is construed "broadly in favor of proposed intervenors." Wilderness Soc'y v. United States Forest Serv. , 630 F.3d 1173, 1179 (9th Cir. 2011). However, "[f]ailure to satisfy any one of the requirements is fatal to the application, and [the Court] need not reach the remaining elements if one of the elements is not satisfied." Perry v. Proposition 8 Official Proponents , 587 F.3d 947, 950 (9th Cir. 2009).

B. Motion to Intervene: Permissive Intervention

Intervention may be allowed in the Court's discretion when: (1) a federal statute confers a conditional right to intervene; or (2) the applicant's claim or defense shares a common question of law or fact with the main action. Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(1). "Generally, permissive intervention under Rule 24(b) requires (1) an independent ground for jurisdiction; (2) a timely motion; and (3) a common question of law and fact between the movant's claim or defense and the main action." Blum v. Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith Inc. , 712 F.3d 1349, 1353 (9th Cir. 2013) (quoting Beckman Indus., Inc. v. Int'l Ins. Co. , 966 F.2d 470, 473 (9th Cir. 1992)). Furthermore, "in exercising its discretion, the Court must consider whether the intervention will unduly delay or prejudice the adjudication of the original parties' rights." Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b)(3).

District courts are given broad discretion in determining whether to allow permissive intervention. Perry v. Schwarzenegger , 630 F.3d 898, 905-06 (9th Cir. 2011) (citing Kootenai Tribe v. Veneman , 313 F.3d 1094, 1110 (9th Cir. 2002)).

III. Discussion

A. Intervention as of Right: ...


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