The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.
Plaintiffs, Ronald and Diane D., initially instituted this
action on behalf of their son, Timothy D., against the
Titusville Area School District and various officials and
administrators of the school district, for compensatory and
punitive damages for alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act
of 1871, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972, 86 Stat. 373, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1681,
et seq. Presently pending before the Court is a motion by the
Plaintiffs to amend their complaint pursuant to Rule 15(a) of
the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. For the reasons that
follow, the Plaintiffs' motion shall be granted.
Plaintiffs filed their original Complaint on June 8, 2000.
Plaintiffs alleged a five-year pattern and practice on the part
of the School District and various school administrators of
deliberate indifference to recurrent verbal and physical
harassment of their son Timothy, while he was a student in the
Titusville Area School District. Complaint ¶¶ 2-6, 27-29.
Plaintiffs claim a denial of equal protection of the law, a
violation of substantive due process under the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution, and a denial of
educational benefits on the basis of gender. Complaint ¶ 1.
Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as
compensatory and punitive damages.
On March 19, 2001, Plaintiffs filed a motion to amend their
original Complaint with a proposed Amended Complaint
attached.*fn1 Plaintiffs assert that during discovery, they
took the deposition of Thomas Hancock, the school psychologist
for Defendant School District. See Plaintiffs' Motion to Amend
the Complaint to Add Thomas Hancock as a Defendant and to add
Two New Causes of Action, ¶ 1 [Doc. No. 17]. According to the
Plaintiffs, Mr. Hancock's testimony "indicated his liability and
that of the School District in failing to determine that Timothy
D. was entitled to school services" pursuant to the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1401, et
seq., and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("the
Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 794. See Id. at ¶ 2.
Plaintiffs seek to amend their Complaint to add Thomas Hancock
as a Defendant, and assert causes of action under IDEA and the
In their proposed Amended Complaint, the Plaintiffs reiterate
in detail the conduct to which Timothy was allegedly subjected
during the sixth through tenth grades of school in the School
District, during the 1994-1995 through 1998-1999 school years.
Amended Complaint §§ 3469.
Plaintiffs allege that as a result of the Defendants' actions,
the Defendants have deprived Timothy of his right to a free,
appropriate public education as guaranteed by IDEA and the
Rehabilitation Act, by failing to provide him with services
which would protect him from sexually oriented harassment by
schoolmates so that he felt comfortable attending school.
Amended Complaint ¶¶ 108-109.
The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that leave to
amend a pleading "shall be freely given when justice so
requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a). Although the decision to grant or
deny leave to amend a complaint is committed to the sound
discretion of the district court, leave should, consistent with
the command of Rule 15(a), be liberally granted. Gay v.
Petsock, 917 F.2d 768, 772 (3rd Cir. 1990); Coventry v. U.S.
Steel Corp., 856 F.2d 514, 518-19 (3rd Cir. 1988). The United
States Supreme Court has articulated the following standard to
be applied in evaluating whether to grant or deny leave to
In the absence of any apparent or declared reason —
such as undue delay, bad faith or dilatory motive on
the part of the movant, repeated failure to cure
deficiencies by amendments previously allowed, undue
prejudice to the opposing party by virtue of
allowance of the amendment, futility of amendment,
etc. — the leave sought should, as the rules require,
be "freely given."
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 183, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222
Pursuant to IDEA, "children with disabilities" are entitled to
"a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special
education and related services designed to meet their unique
needs. . . ." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d). The Rehabilitation Act, while
phrased differently, guarantees the same "free appropriate
public education" to each qualified handicapped person. W.B. v.
Matula, 67 F.3d 484, 492-93 (3rd Cir. 1995). "Children with
disabilities" includes not only those traditionally recognized
as handicapped, such as those children with mental retardation,
hearing impairments, speech or language impairments and visual
impairments, but also those with "serious emotional disturbance
. . . who by reason thereof, need special education and related
services." 20 U.S.C. § 1401(3)(A). IDEA requires state and local
educational agencies receiving federal assistance under the Act