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JEFFERY & MARY Y. v. ST. MARYS AREA SCH. DIST.

June 20, 1997

JEFFERY AND MARY Y., individually and as parents and as Natural Guardians of NICOLE Y., Plaintiffs,
v.
THE ST. MARYS AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS, personally and in his official capacity as Superintendent of St. Marys Area School District, ELAINE A. LEE, personally and in her capacity as the Special Education Supervisor at St. Marys Area School District, PAUL J. ROBERTSON, personally and in his official capacity as Supervisor of Pupil Personnel and Administrative Services, SUSAN McDONOUGH, Personally and in her official capacity as a Learning Support Teacher at St. Marys Area High School, LISA MANCUSO, personally and in her official capacity as a Life Skills Teacher at St. Marys Area School District, JOHN ESENWINE, personally and in his official capacity as an elementary school principal at St. Marys Area School District, TIMOTHY R. WURM, personally and in his official capacity as a Life Support Teacher at St. Marys School District, SUSAN GRUMLEY, personally and in her official capacity as a Learing Support Teacher at St. Marys Area High School, Defendants. & KATHY G., individually and as parent and Natural Guardian of Mark C., Plaintiffs, v. THE ST. MARYS AREA SCHOOL DISTRICT, WILLIAM J. WILLIAMS, personally and in his official capacity as Superintendent of St. Marys Area School District, CLYTHERIA HORNUNG, personally and in her official capacity as Principal of St. Marys Middle School, ELAINE A. LEE, personally and in her capacity as the Special Education Supervisor at St. Marys Area School District, PAUL J. ROBERTSON, personally and in his official capacity as Supervisor of Pupil Personnel and Administrative Services, SUSAN McDONOUGH, Personally and in her official capacity as a Learning Support Teacher at St. Marys Area High School, SUSAN GRUMLEY, personally and in her official capacity as a Learing Support Teacher at St. Marys Area High School, CHARLES ALIBERTO, personally and in his official capacity as a Special Education Advisor, Bureau of Special Education, Division of Compliance, Pennsylvania Department of Education, MICHELLE DESERA, personally and in her official capacity as Chief of the Bureau of Special Education, Department of Education, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: COHILL

 These are civil rights actions brought pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 720, 794, the Americans with Disability Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The plaintiffs request damages, but no injunctive relief.

 The defendants in both actions have filed Motions to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Stay, Pending Administrative Proceedings. They also request that we rule that the appropriate statute of limitations in an IDEA case is two years. Though these cases are not consolidated, because the legal issues pending in both actions are the same, this Court shall address them simultaneously.

 I. Background

 The plaintiffs allege that they are disabled and/or handicapped and therefore protected by the aforementioned legislation and constitutional provisions. They further allege that the defendants have violated various substantive provisions of these laws, and that they (the plaintiffs) are entitled to damages as a result.

 The defendants assert that the plaintiffs have not exhausted their administrative remedies, and that this Court does not have jurisdiction until such remedies have been exhausted.

 In their complaint, the plaintiffs assert that they have "fully exhausted all required administrative procedures . . . ." Compl. P 3.

 II. Discussion

 When deciding a motion to dismiss brought pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6), the Court must accept as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, and view them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d Cir. 1990). However, a court is not compelled to accept conclusions of law as stated in the complaint. Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 92 L. Ed. 2d 209, 106 S. Ct. 2932 (1986). Accordingly, we need not accept the plaintiffs' conclusion that they have, as a matter of law, exhausted their administrative remedies.

 (A)

 The defendants assert that, pursuant to the IDEA and Pennsylvania law, the plaintiffs must avail themselves of a two-tiered administrative process prior to bringing suit in this Court. This process entails an independent education specialist serving as a hearing officer and presiding over a local hearing to make factual findings and resolving the parties' dispute. His or her decision can subsequently be reviewed by a state appeals panel.

 In response, the plaintiffs assert that because they are only seeking monetary compensation, and because such compensation is not available in the aforementioned administrative process, they need not go through the process. In support of this assertion they rely on W.B. v. Matula, 67 F.3d 484 (3d Cir. 1995).

 In Matula, the court stated that:

 
Beginning with the plain language of [20 U.S.C.] § 1415(f) [the IDEA] . . . it is apparent that the exhaustion requirement is limited to actions seeking relief 'also available' under IDEA. We held . . . that damages are available in a § 1983 action, but IDEA itself makes no mention of such relief. Hence by its plain terms § 1415(f) does not ...

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