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N.G. v. ABC Unified School District

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 19, 2014

N.G., Plaintiff,
v.
ABC UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.

FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW

DOLLY M. GEE, District Judge.

This matter is before the Court following a bench trial which took place on June 17, 2014. Tania L. Whiteleather appeared on behalf of Plaintiff, N.G. Marlon C. Wadlington and Kristin M. Myers appeared on behalf of Defendant, ABC School District.

Having carefully reviewed the evidence and the arguments of counsel, as presented at trial and in their written submissions, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to Rule 52 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

I.

FINDINGS OF FACT

1. N.G. is a student who receives special education services due to a diagnosis of Emotional Disturbance. (Administrative Record ("AR") V. 2 pg. 371; V.3 512.)

2. In October 2012, the Department of Children and Family Services ("DCFS") placed N.G. at College Hospital, where she remained until March 26, 2013. (AR V. 2 pg. 400.) Her placement at College Hospital was a "medically necessary placement, " as opposed to an educational placement. (AR V. 4 pg. 965:12-22.)

3. College Hospital is within the geographical boundaries of ABC Unified School District ("the District"). (AR V. 2 pg. 400.)

4. On November 15, 2012, the District held its first individualized education program ("IEP") team meeting for N.G., in which it offered to provide N.G. specialized academic instruction. (AR V.2 pg. 337-57.) The District also offered to conduct an Educationally Related Mental Health Services ("ERMHS") assessment and a Functional Analysis Assessment ("FAA"). (AR V. 2 pg. 354-55.)

5. Sometime in December 2012, N.G.'s treating psychiatrist determined it was no longer medically necessary for N.G. to remain at College Hospital. (AR V. 4 pg. 1007: 9-14.) A court order provided N.G. could not be discharged, however, until all pending educational assessments were completed. (AR V. 4 pg. 1141:1-5.)

6. On December 18, 2012, the District convened another IEP team meeting to review the results of the FAA and ERMHS assessments. (AR V. 2 pg. 379-82.) The ERMHS assessment concluded that "Residential Placement appears to be the least restrictive environment (LRE) to meet [N.G.'s] educational needs at this time." (AR V. 2 pg. 377.) As a result, the District recommended a Residential Treatment Center placement ("RTC"). (V. 3 pg. 532.)

7. On January 15, 2013, the IEP team held a third meeting. (AR V. 3 pg. 534-37.) The team agreed that upon discharge from College Hospital, N.G. should be placed in an RTC, which is reflected in the January 15, 2013 IEP. (AR V. 2 pg. 400.) The District, however, did not offer N.G. an RTC placement. ( Id. ) Instead, DCFS offered to place N.G. in an RTC funded by DCFS. (AR V. 3 pg. 535; AR V. 4 pg. 730:14-731:1-6.) N.G.'s guardian ad litem, Patrice Vance, refused DCFS's RTC offer because she did not think it was a good fit for N.G. (AR V. 4 pg. 918:23-24.)

8. At the January 15, 2013 IEP meeting, the District informed N.G.'s guardian that it would not be the local education agency ("LEA") responsible for placing N.G. upon her discharge from College Hospital. (AR V.3 pg. 535.) It recommended that she contact her home district to commence N.G.'s placement process.

9. During the time N.G. was at College Hospital, her guardian resided in the attendance area of the Chino Valley Unified School District. (AR V.4 at 698; 736:17-22; 1154:14-17.)

10. On February 14, 2013, N.G.'s guardian filed a due process complaint against the District for failing to offer N.G. an RTC placement upon her discharge from College Hospital. (Administrative Record ("AR") V.1 pg. 1-17.)

11. On March 26, 2013, the guardian transferred N.G. to an RTC in Texas. (AR V. 4 pg. 948:9-18.)

12. That same day, N.G.'s guardian first contacted Chino Valley Unified School District to have her ...


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