The opinion of the court was delivered by: D. Brooks Smith, Chief Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION and ORDER
Because the parties are already familiar with the allegations
in the complaints, I will not rehearse them in detail here.
Briefly, both Clifford and Damian McCachren have a history of
educational and disciplinary difficulties in different schools
within the Blacklick Valley School District. According to the
complaints, both boys should have received learning support
services from Blacklick. However, the school district and its
officers failed to provide such learning support, as required
under federal laws.
Seeking to recover compensatory and punitive damages for the
injuries they have already suffered, Clifford and Damian,
through and with their parents, filed two separate actions on
May 21, 2001. The complaints allege that the defendants failed
to comply with the requirements of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.; the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 700, et seq.; the
Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, 42 U.S.C. § 12101, et
seq.; and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment,
which the plaintiffs seek to enforce via an action under
42 U.S.C. § 1983. In addition to the Blacklick Valley School
District, the complaints also name as defendants the Blacklick
Valley School Board and various individuals in both their
personal and official capacities. The individual defendants
include the following: Donald Thompson, Superintendent of the
school district; Thomas Kupchella, principal of the Blacklick
Valley Junior/Senior High School;*fn1 Carole Kakabar,
principal of the Blacklick Valley Junior/Senior High School;
Deborah Pollino, Director of Special Education and Section 504
Coordinator; and Frank Frontino, At-Risk/Academic Attention
The defendants have moved to dismiss the complaints, raising
various arguments under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6). The most important argument appears in the defendants'
supplemental motions to dismiss, which assert that the
plaintiffs have failed to exhaust administrative remedies as
required by statute. The individual defendants also assert that
they have qualified immunity against the § 1983 claim and that
they cannot be individually liable under either the
Rehabilitation Act or the ADA. In addition, the defendants claim
that they cannot be liable for punitive damages.
When considering a motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), I must accept as true all
facts alleged in the complaint and view them in the light most
favorable to the plaintiff. Independent Enterprises, Inc. v.
Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Auth., 103 F.3d 1165, 1168 (3d Cir.
1997); Markowitz v. Northeast Land Co., 906 F.2d 100, 103 (3d
Cir. 1990); D.P. Enterprises, Inc. v. Bucks County Community
College, 725 F.2d 943, 944 (3d Cir. 1984). I must also presume
at the pleading stage that general factual allegations "embrace
those specific facts necessary to support the claim." Lujan v.
Nat'l Wildlife Fed., 497 U.S. 871, 889, 110 S.Ct. 3177, 111
L.Ed.2d 695 (1990); National Org. for Women, Inc. v.
Scheidler, 510 U.S. 249, 256, 114 S.Ct. 798, 127 L.Ed.2d 99
In order to prevail on a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the movant must
establish that no relief could be granted under any set of facts
that the plaintiff could prove. Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41,
45-46, 78 S.Ct. 99, 2 L.Ed.2d 80 (1957); Trump Hotels & Casino
Resorts v. Mirage Resorts, Inc., 140 F.3d 478, 483 (3d Cir.
1998); Ransom v. Marrazzo, 848 F.2d 398, 401 (3d Cir. 1988).
The first argument the defendants raise in their motions to
dismiss is the plaintiffs' failure to exhaust the available
administrative remedies. The IDEA mandates exhaustion prior to
filing any civil action: "before the filing of a civil action
. . . seeking relief that is also available under this
subchapter, the procedures under subsections (f) and (g) of this
section shall be exhausted to the same extent as would be
required had the action been brought under this subchapter."
20 U.S.C. § 1415(1); see also Jeremy H. v. Mount Lebanon Sch.
Dist., 95 F.3d 272 (3d Cir. 1996). According to the defendants,
the plaintiffs here have not even attempted to invoke the
administrative remedies available under the IDEA, and therefore
these civil actions are barred by § 1415(1). On this basis, the
defendants contend that all of the claims against both Blacklick
and the individual defendants must be dismissed.
This argument has already been conclusively rejected by the
Third Circuit, however. In W.B. v. Matula, 67 F.3d 484 (3d
Cir. 1995), the Third Circuit looked to the plain language of §
1415 and found that the exhaustion requirement is limited to
actions seeking relief that is "also available" under the
IDEA.*fn2 See id. at 496. According to the Third Circuit,
the IDEA itself makes no mention of damages as an available type
of relief, though damages are available in a § 1983 action for
violations of the IDEA. See id. Thus, monetary damages are not
"relief that is also available" under the IDEA, see
20 U.S.C. § 1415(1), and therefore the IDEA's exhaustion requirement does
not apply to actions seeking such relief. See Matula, 67 F.3d
at 496. Because the IDEA does not itself make damages available,
recourse to the IDEA's administrative remedies is effectively
futile. See id.; see also Lester H. v. Gilhool, 916 F.2d 865
(3d Cir. 1990).
The defendants' make various protestations about the propriety
of first seeking administrative relief under the IDEA, but the
fact remains that the plaintiffs here have sought only
compensatory and punitive damages under § 1983 for the
defendants' alleged violations of the plaintiffs' rights under
the IDEA. Under the holding of Matula, the exhaustion
requirement of § 1415(1) does not apply to such an action. The