Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

JONATHAN T. v. LACKAWANNA TRAIL SCHOOL DISTRICT

February 26, 2004.

JONATHAN T., Plaintiff
v.
THE LACKAWANNA TRAIL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: JAMES MUNLEY, District Judge

MEMORANDUM

Before the court for disposition is the defendant's motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The motion has been fully briefed and argued and is ripe for disposition. For the following reasons, the defendant's motion will be granted in part and denied in part.

Background*fn1

  Jonathan T. ("Jonathan") was born on July 16, 1981 and is now twenty-two years old. He attended the Lackawanna Trail School District ("school district") from 1986 through November 1999. Jonathan has been diagnosed with a specific learning disability, emotional disturbance and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Jonathan asserts that his disabilities were not appropriately identified or remediated by the school district. Jonathan withdrew from school on November 22, 1999, at the age of eighteen.

  On May 2, 2002, at the age of twenty, Jonathan filed a request for an administrative Page 2 special education due process hearing. On January 10, 2003, the Due Process Hearing Officer issued her Decision and Order dismissing the plaintiff's case as untimely filed outside the statute of limitations. A Special Education Appeals Panel also concluded that Jonathan's claims were barred by the statute of limitations.

  Having exhausted his administrative remedies, Jonathan filed the instant complaint alleging the school district has violated (1) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ("section 504"); (2) the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1983 ("section 1983"); (3) the Fourteenth Amendment; (4) 42 U.S.C. § 1985 ("section 1985"); (5) the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"); and (6) various provisions of the Pennsylvania administrative code. The school district has filed a motion to dismiss, bringing the case to its present posture.

 Jurisdiction

  The Court exercises jurisdiction over this dispute pursuant to its federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1367. Pennsylvania law applies to those claims considered pursuant to supplemental jurisdiction. United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966) (citing Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64 (1938)).

 Discussion

  Defendant school district contends that Jonathan's claims under section 1983, section 1985, and the 14th Amendment are barred by Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations. Jonathan does not dispute that these claims should be dismissed. Accordingly, the school Page 3 district's motion to dismiss Jonathan's claims under section 1983, section 1985, and the 14th Amendment will be granted as unopposed.*fn2

  Defendant school district further contends that Jonathan's claim under section 504 and IDEA should be dismissed for violating the statute of limitations. After careful review, we disagree.

  The IDEA does not contain a statute of limitations. As a general rule, when a federal statute creates substantive rights but does not identify a statute of limitations, the courts borrow the most clearly analogous state statute of limitations. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 266-67 (1985) (stating that if a federal statute doesnot specify a statute of limitations, courts apply the relevant statute of limitations of the forum state). The Third Circuit has expressly declined to choose a statute of limitations for IDEA actions. See Jeremv H. v. Mount Lebanon School District, 95 F.3d 272, 280 n. 15 (3d Cir. 1996) ("We . . . need not, and do not, decide between a two-year and a six-year limitations period."). The Third Circuit, however, did decide that the limitations period begins to run "once the state administrative process has run its course." Id. at 280. In the instant matter, Jonathon filed the instant complaint within two months after completion of the state administrative process. Accordingly, based on the criteria set forth in Jeremy H., Jonathon's claim is not barred by the statute of limitations. Page 4

  Defendant school district argues that Pennsylvania state and federal courts have concluded that since the IDEA is an equitable statute, an equitable limitations period of a minimum of one year from the date of issuance of the challenged IEP applies, and a maximum of two years with mitigating circumstances. See Bernardsville Board of Educ. v. J.H., 42 F.3d 149, 157-58 (3d Cir. 1994) ("We think that more than two years, indeed, more than one year without mitigating excuse, is an unreasonable delay"); Montour School District v. S.T. and His Parent, 805 A.2d 29 (Pa. Commw. 2002) (accepting the Bernardsville equitable statute of limitations for IDEA claims). Defendant school district further argues that Jonathan's complaint does not state any mitigating circumstances and that, even if it did, his claims would still be untimely.

  The school district's reliance on Bernardsville is, however, misplaced. The plaintiffs in Bernardsville were seeking reimbursement of educational expenses. Here, however, the Jonathan is seeking compensatory education. This is a crucial difference that has been recognized by this court in Kristi H. v. Tri Valley School District, 107 F. Supp.2d 628 (M.D. Pa. 2000). In Kristi H., we followed the Third Circuit's decision in Ridgewood Board of Education v. N.E., 172 F.3d 238, 250 n.11 (3d ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.