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Swanson v. Yuba City Unified School District

United States District Court, E.D. California

May 15, 2015



KIMBERLY J. MUELLER, District Judge.

This matter is before the court on defendants' motions to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) or, in the alternative, to strike the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f). Defs.' Mot., ECF No. 17. Also before the court is defendants' request for judicial notice. Req. Judicial Notice (RJN), ECF No. 17-2. The matter is decided on the papers. For the following reasons, defendants' motions are denied.


A. Procedural Background

On June 16, 2014, plaintiffs filed a complaint, seeking a review and reversal of a decision of an Administrative Law Judge under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2) (IDEA)) and claiming violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, § 29 U.S.C.A. § 749 et seq. (discrimination and retaliation), the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12131 et seq. (discrimination and retaliation), and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civ. Code § 51 et seq. ECF No. 1. Defendants filed this motion on December 12, 2014, arguing that the complaint does not contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" in a simple, concise and direct manner. ECF No. 17. Defendants also allege the complaint contains redundant, immaterial, impertinent, and scandalous matter. Id. Additionally, defendants seek dismissal of the fourth, fifth and sixth claims and dismissal of the complaint in its entirety. Id. They also request paragraph 56 of the complaint be stricken under Federal Rule of Evidence 408, which excludes references to settlement discussions. In their opposition, plaintiffs agree to withdraw the fourth, fifth and sixth claims. Opp'n, ECF No. 20. Plaintiffs plan to file an amended complaint removing those claims and the preliminary statement to cure the alleged lack of conciseness.[1] Id. ¶ 6.

B. Alleged Facts

The claims in this case arise from the alleged abuse and mistreatment of plaintiff David Swanson, a twenty-two year old nonverbal special education student who has been diagnosed with autism and Type 1 diabetes. Compl. ¶ 1. Defendant Sutter County Superintendent of Schools (SCSOS) is a local educational agency, which provides special education and related services to students in Sutter County (the County), where David attended a special education day class. Id. ¶ 23. Defendant Yuba City Unified School District (the District) is a local education agency, which provides educational services to students in Sutter County. Id. ¶ 24. Defendant Barbara Hickman is the Director of Special Education for the County. Id. ¶ 25. Defendant Bill Cornelius is the Superintendent for the County. Id. ¶ 26.

In May 2012, David's one-to-one licensed vocational nurse ("LVN"), employed by the County, reported a teacher's alleged abuse of David to Adult Protective Services and Sutter County Superintendent Cornelius. Id. ¶ 2. Upon learning of her son's abuse, plaintiff and guardian ad litem Heather Swanson-Houston filed the following complaints against the County and the District: a due process complaint with the Special Education Division of the Office of Administrative Hearings on September 7, 2012; a complaint with the California Department of Education on or about October 22, 2012; a complaint with the County regarding the alleged abuse on October 24, 2012; and a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights on January 8, 2013; and a complaint with the Board of Nurses on February 20, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 3, 127. Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings with Swanson-Houston to discuss David's care, alleged abuse, and future treatment were convened on November 8, 2012, April 12, 2013, May 3, 2013, August 19, 2013, and September 25, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 11, 33, 5, 52, 93. At the IEP meeting on November 8, 2012, Swanson-Houston gave copies of health records from David's doctor to County and District personnel. These documents included an Individualized Health Care Plan ("IHP"), a Diabetes Medical Management Plan ("DMMP"), and a Hypoglycemia Emergency Care Plan. Id. ¶ 34.

David's LVN was placed on administrative leave on February 19, 2013. Id. ¶ 4. The following day, Swanson-Houston informed the County she would provide David's diabetic care during the school day herself. Id. ¶¶ 4-5. The following day, the County and District informed Swanson-Houston that the provision of special education services was contingent on allowing County health care staff to provide David's care. Id. ¶ 8. The County also required Swanson-Houston to sign a release form authorizing sharing David's medical information with the school nurse. The County and the District made the provision of David's special education services contingent on the signing of this form, which Swanson-Houston refused to authorize. Id. ¶¶ 40, 41, 84. The County and District have not sent a school bus to pick up David to go to school or provided any special education services since February 15, 2013. Id. ¶ 10.

On February 22, 2013, Swanson-Houston sent an email to the County and the District notifying them that her "revocation of the medical release" and refusal to allow "untrained SCSOS staff" to provide David's diabetes care "in no way rejects or implies a rejection of special education services or relieves SCSOS of their obligation to provide a free appropriate public education, special education services, or related service, therapy or recreation per David's signed IEP or Settlement Agreement." Id. ¶ 86.

David's August 19, 2013 IEP indicates that the County will provide David with LVN services by the County. At the time of the meeting, David had been out of school for approximately five months and needed support to transition back to school. Id. ¶ 54. The proposed new LVN would not have any training specific to David and communication with him, which is medically necessary. Id. ¶ 11.

Swanson-Houston and the County entered into a Settlement Agreement on October 23, 2013 regarding special education claims. Id. ¶ 31. On October 24, 2012, Swanson-Houston filed a complaint with the Sutter County Superintendent of Schools regarding David's alleged abuse by his teacher. Id. ¶ 32.

An IDEA administrative hearing was held on February 3 through 7, 2014. Plaintiffs claim the ALJ improperly conducted the hearing, ignored relevant evidence, cited a vacated case, misstated numerous facts, misapplied the law, and unilaterally rewrote one of the issues following the conclusion of the hearing. Id. ¶ 12. Plaintiffs seek review and partial reversal of the ALJ's findings and decision. Specifically, plaintiffs seek reversal of "Student's Issue 2: Did District and County deny Student a FAPE [free appropriate public education] by failing to provide him with special education and related services from February 21, 2013, through the present, and failing to permit Parent to choose the LVN or family member to provide Student with diabetic services at school?" and "District's ...

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