The opinion of the court was delivered by: McLAUGHLIN, United States District Judge
Plaintiff's, 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 Plaintiff's 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.
Plaintiff's filed their original Complaint on June 8, 2000. plaintiff's
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. plaintiff's 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. Plaintiff's sought declaratory
and in relief, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.
On March 19, 2001, Plaintiff's filed a motion to amend their original
Complaint with a proposed Amended Complaint attached.*fn1 Plaintiff's
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 Plaintiff's, 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. Plaintiff's seek to amend
their Complaint to add Thomas Hancock as a Defendant, and assert causes
of action under IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act.
In their proposed Amended Complaint, the plaintiff's 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 ¶¶ 34-69.
Plaintiff's 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 amend:
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
Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 183, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962).
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. WB. 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 ...