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