United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY (Doc.
December 29, 2016, plaintiff Tehachapi Unified School
District (“Tehachapi”) brought this action
pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415 and California Education
Code § 56505(K), seeking review of a decision by the
California Office of the Administrative Hearings. (Doc. No.
1.) On March 1, 2017, plaintiff Tehachapi moved to stay the
California Department of Education's enforcement of the
decision issued by the Office of Administrative Hearings.
(Doc. No. 8.) On March 1, 2017, defendants filed an
opposition and on March 28, 2017 plaintiff filed a reply.
(Doc. Nos. 9 and 12.) On April 4, 2017, the matter came
before the court for hearing. (Doc. No. 10.) Attorney Kyles
Homes appeared telephonically on behalf of plaintiff, and
attorney Kelly Kaeser appeared telephonically on behalf of
defendants. For the reasons that follow, plaintiff's
motion to stay will be denied.
K.M. is a minor diagnosed with autism who has been enrolled
at Tehachapi at relevant times. On December 1, 2016, the
Office of Administrative Hearings issued a decision finding
that Tehachapi's predetermination of an offer of speech
and language services for defendant K.M. significantly
impeded the rights of her parents to meaningfully participate
in the decision-making process, and also, independently
resulted in a loss of educational opportunity for K.M.
causing a denial of free appropriate public education
(“FAPE”). (Doc. No. 1 at 28.) The decision
ordered Tehachapi to fully fund a 2016 summer program at
Lindamood Bell Learning Processes ($15, 000), which K.M. had
previously attended, plus mileage costs ($3, 257.28).
(Id. at 29-30.)
now moves this court for an order staying enforcement of that
decision pending review by this court. (Doc. No. 3.) In doing
so, Tehachapi argues that both the 1990 and the current
versions of 20 U.S.C. § 1415 provide that a decision of a
state educational agency's administrative hearing officer
is not enforceable while the matter is being appealed to the
district court. (Id. at 4-5.) In support of this
proposition, Tehachapi relies upon the decision in Clovis
Unified School Dist. v. California Office of Administrative
Hearings, 903 F.2d 635, 648 (9th Cir. 1990)
(“[u]nder the EHA, the decision of the hearing officer
is final and enforceable unless appealed”) and the U.S.
Department of Education, Office of Special Education and
Rehabilitative Services Letter to Zirkel, August 22,
2016 (“The SEA, pursuant to its general supervisory
responsibility under 34 C.F.R. § 300.149 and 300.600,
must ensure that the public agency involved in the due
process hearing implements the hearing officer's decision
in a timely manner, unless either party appeals the
decision.”). (Id.) Plaintiff Tehachapi also
contends that there are no statutes, regulations, or case
decisions which provide that a state educational agency's
administrative hearings are conducted in accordance with the
California Code of Civil Procedure or the Federal Rules of
Civil Procedure and that this is not a situation in which a
bond must be posted as in cases where a stay preventing the
enforcement of a money judgment is being sought.
(Id. at 4.)
opposition, defendants argue that Tehachapi has failed to
identify any applicable factors under the federal rules which
weigh in favor of its request for a stay pending appeal.
(Doc. No. 9 at 2.) Defendants also assert that Tehachapi has
made no relevant legal argument in support of its requests
and note that plaintiff has not offered to post a supersedeas
bond in the amount it has been ordered to pay defendants, as
required under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
(“Rule”) 62(d). (Id. at 3.)
court first observes that by its terms 20 U.S.C. § 1415
does not provide that a decision of a state educational
agency's administrative hearing officer is unenforceable
while review is being sought before the district court.
Indeed, that statutory provision specifically states that a
decision rendered in a due process hearing under §
1415(f), as is the case here, “shall be final, except
that any party involved in such hearing may appeal such
decision under the provisions of subsection (g) [to the state
educational agency] and paragraph (2).” 20 U.S.C.
§ 1415(i)(1)(A) (2005). Paragraph (2) in turn provides:
[A]ny party aggrieved by the findings and decision made under
this subsection, shall have the right to bring a civil action
with respect to the complaint presented pursuant to this
section, which action may be brought in any State court of
competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United
States, without regard to the amount in controversy.
Id. at § 1415(i)(2)(A). If a civil action is
then brought in the district court, the court “basing
its decision on the preponderance of the evidence, shall
grant such relief as the court determines is
appropriate.” Id. at §
1415(i)(2)(C)(iii). Accordingly, § 1415 provides a
mechanism to seek review by the district court of a decision
rendered following an administrative due process hearing and
grants the district court authority to alter that
administrative decision. However, by its terms that statute
does not preclude enforcement of a monetary award while
review in the district court is pending. Rather, the statute
merely provides that district court “shall grant such
relief as the court determines is appropriate.”
statute does contain a “stay-put” provision which
provides that a child is to remain in “the then-current
educational placement of the child, ” “during the
pendency of any proceedings conducted pursuant to this
section.” Id. at § 1415(j). The decision
of the Ninth Circuit in Clovis, relied upon by
plaintiff Tehachapi, held that an earlier version of this
provision applied throughout the pendency of court review
proceedings and thus the school district was responsible for
maintaining a specified educational placement during and
throughout review proceedings in the district court. 903 F.2d
at 641. Neither the decision in Clovis, nor §
1415 by its terms, however, preclude enforcement of a
monetary award while review of an administrative decision by
the district court is being sought. See Tamalpais Union
High Sch. Dist. v. D. W., No. 16-CV-04350-HSG, 2016 WL
5791259, at *8 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 4, 2016) (“the Court
holds that 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2) does not provide that
all decisions of state educational agencies are automatically
stayed pending appeal to a district court or other court of
competent jurisdiction.”); D.C. v. Masucci, 13
F.Supp.3d 33, 42 (D.D.C. 2014) (interpreting § 1415 and
observing, “[t]he decision of a hearing officer is
deemed ‘final' unless and until it is vacated or
modified by . . . the appropriate federal court.”).
a stay of enforcement of the administrative determination is
not justified here. A party seeking a stay of enforcement of
an administrative decision must establish: (1) the likelihood
of success on the merits; (2) the likelihood of irreparable
harm to the moving party in the absence of preliminary
relief; (3) that the balance of equities tips in the favor of
the moving party; and (4) that relief is in the public
interest. Humane Soc'y of the U.S. v. Gutierrez,
558 F.3d 896, 896 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Winter v.
Natural Res. Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 19 (2008)).
Tehachapi has not attempted to carry its burden with respect
to these factors here and, in any event, would appear to have
great difficulty in demonstrating any irreparable harm. In
this regard, it has been recognized that “monetary
injury is not normally considered irreparable.” Los
Angeles Mem'l Coliseum Comm'n v. Nat'l Football
League, 634 F.2d 1197, 1202 (9th Cir. 1980); see
also San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist. v. S.W., No.
C-10-05211-DMR, 2011 WL 577413, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 9,
2011) (finding no irreparable harm and denying motion to stay
enforcement of an administrative decision ordering a school
district to reimburse tuition, language session fees, and
transportation costs following a denial of FAPE).
of the reasons set forth above, plaintiff Tehachapi's
motion for a stay (Doc. No. 8) is denied.