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A.A. and L.A. On Behalf of A.A. v. Clovis Unified School District

United States District Court, E.D. California

July 11, 2014

A.A. and L.A. on behalf of A.A., Jr., Plaintiffs
v.
CLOVIS UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, MARY BASS in her personal and official capacities as SELPA ADMINISTRATOR and DIRECTOR of SPECIAL EDUCATION for CLOVIS USD, Defendants

ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc 13) (Doc 13)

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Senior District Judge.

Plaintiffs A.A. and L.A, on behalf of A.A. Jr. (collectively "Plaintiffs") bring this action against Clovis Unified School District ("CUSD") and Mary Bass, individually and in her official capacities as SELPA Administrator and Director of Special Education for CUSD (collectively "Defendants"). Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief related to A.A. Jr.'s placement in school under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). The Court addresses Defendants' motion to dismiss the Complaint.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs' Complaint involves the same parties and identifies some of the same factual allegations as Case No. 1:13-CV-01043 in this Court, which brings eight causes of action also related to A.A. Jr.'s education. That case appeals an ALJ's decision in CUSD's favor dated April 5, 2013 regarding A.A. Jr.'s Individual Education Program ("IEP") for the 2012-2013 school year. According to the IDEA, during the pendency of proceedings in district court "the child shall remain in the then-current educational placement of the child." 20 U.S.C S 1415(j).

This case arises out of A.A. Jr.'s IEP for the 2013-2014 school year. Doc. 1, 1:20-23. The 2013-2014 IEP was substantially similar to the 2012-2013 IEP, which A.A. and L.A. had rejected. Doc. 1, 2:8-10. A.A. and L.A. also refused to consent to the 2013-2014 IEP. Doc. 1, 5:14-22. CUSD filed a request for a due process hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings, to which Plaintiffs filed a motion to dismiss and were denied. Doc. 1, 1:18-25, 2:17-18. Plaintiffs requested two continuances of the hearing. Doc. 19-2, pp. 2-3.

This Complaint was filed on November 2, 2013. Doc. 1. It requests that the Court make certain declarations of law, and that Defendants be required to keep A.A. Jr. in his present placement according to the IDEA's "stay-put" provision. Doc. 1, 9:26-10:18. Plaintiffs filed a motion for temporary restraining order on November 8, 2013 to enjoin the hearing from occurring (Doc. 9), which was denied for failure to demonstrate irreparable harm (Doc. 12). Plaintiffs did not file a motion for injunction. The hearing took place on November 12 and 13, 2013, and the ALJ found in favor of CUSD. Doc. 19-2, Exh. A, pp. 1, 28.

Defendants brought this motion to dismiss the Complaint on November 25, 2013. Doc. 13. The matter was taken under submission without oral argument. Doc. 20.

II. RULE 12(b)(1)

Rule 12(b)(1) allows a party to seek dismissal of an action where federal subject matter jurisdiction is lacking. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). For federal question jurisdiction to exist, the requirements of 28 U.S.C. Section 1331, which gives federal courts jurisdiction only to those cases which arise under federal law, must be met. 28 U.S.C. ยง 1331. Statutory conditions that require a party to take some action before filing a lawsuit are not automatically jurisdictional prerequisites to suit. Reed Elsevier, Inc. v. Muchnick, 559 U.S. 154, 166, 161, 130 S.Ct. 1237, 176 L.Ed.2d 18 (2010). The Ninth Circuit specifically found that the IDEA's exhaustion requirement is an affirmative defense, not a jurisdictional requirement. Payne v. Peninsula Sch. Dist., 653 F.3d 863, 867 (9th Cir. 2011).

This case arises under the IDEA, a federal statute. Administrative exhaustion is not a jurisdictional requirement. Hence, the Court has jurisdiction to hear this case.

III. RULE 12(b)(5)

Because Defendants have waived the issue (Doc. 19, 3:20-4:2), the Court will not address the issue of proper service.

IV. RULE 12(b)(6)

Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), a claim may be dismissed because of the plaintiff's "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). A dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) may be based on the lack of a cognizable legal theory or on the absence of sufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Conservation Force v. Salazar, 646 F.3d 1240, 1242 (9th Cir. 2011); Johnson v. Riverside Healthcare Sys., 534 F.3d 1116, 1121 (9th Cir. 2008). In reviewing a complaint under Rule 12(b)(6), all allegations of material fact are taken as true and ...


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