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.

Medici v. Pocono Mountain School District

March 16, 2010

MICHAEL MEDICI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
POCONO MOUNTAIN SCHOOL DISTRICT, DWIGHT R. PFENNING, SUPERINTENDENT, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: (judge Caputo)

MEMORANDUM

Presently before the Court is Defendants Pocono Mountain School District and Dwight Pfenning's Motion to Dismiss. (Doc. 5.) For the reasons discussed below, Defendants' motion will be granted in part and denied in part. This Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(A).

BACKGROUND

The facts as alleged in Plaintiff's Complaint are as follows: Plaintiff Michael Medici ("Medici") is the father of T.M., a special education student who was enrolled in the Pocono Mountain School District ("PMSD"). (Compl. ¶ 7, Doc. 1.) Defendant PMSD is an education agency that provides special education services to students with disabilities who reside in the district. (Compl. ¶ 10). Defendant Dwight Pfennig is the Superintendent of the PMSD and is responsible for the administration of all educational programs in the PMSD. (Compl. ¶ 12.)

Medici requested access to his son's education records. (Compl. ¶ 16.) When PMSD failed and refused to produce the records, Medici requested a due process hearing. (Compl. ¶ 16.) A hearing officer was assigned and a hearing was convened on July 23, 2007. (Compl. ¶ 16.) The hearing officer received no evidence, but ruled that a number of documents were not educational records. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Medici appealed the decision to the Special Education Due Process Appeals Review Panel ("Review Panel"). (Compl. ¶ 18.) The Review Panel held that the hearing officer applied an incorrect legal definition of "education record" and remanded the case back to the hearing officer. (Compl. ¶ 19.) PMSD filed a petition for review of the Review Panel's determination. (Compl. ¶ 20.) On March 29, 2009, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the Review Panel, not the hearing officer, must determine the records Medici could access. (Compl. ¶ 22.)

On remand from the district court, the Review Panel issued a final decision on August 31, 2009. (Compl. ¶ 23.) The Review Panel denied Medici's request for test protocols, the answer booklets and scoring sheets generated when a standardized test is administered. (Compl. ¶ 23.) The Review Panel acknowledged that there was precedent for ordering a school to produce test protocols in certain circumstances, but reasoned that these records fell under the exception for records kept in the sole possession of the maker. (Compl. ¶ 23.) However, the Review Panel had no evidence that the test protocols were in fact kept in the sole possession of the test administrator. (Compl. ¶ 23.) The Review Panel further held that PMSD was not obligated to provide the test protocols because copying the test protocols can violate copyright laws. (Compl. ¶ 24.) The Review Panel also held that handwritten, typewritten or e-mail corresspondence between or among teachers, staff and parents that were related to T.M. were education records that should be provided. (Compl. ¶ 28.) PMSD has not given Medici access to those educational records. (Compl. ¶ 29.)

Medici filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania on November 30, 2009. (Doc. 1.) Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss on January 4, 2010. (Doc. 5.) This motion has been briefed by both sides and is now ripe for disposition.

LEGAL STANDARD

I. Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) provides for dismissal of an action where the court lacks jurisdiction over the subject matter of that action. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(1). A defendant may challenge the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in two fashions. See Mortensen v. First Fed. Sav. And Loan Ass'n, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Where a defendant attacks the complaint as deficient on its face, the Court must assume that "the allegations contained in the complaint are true." Id. In deciding a Rule 12(b)(1) facial attack, the court may only consider the allegations contained in the complaint and the exhibits attached to the complaint; matters of public record such as court records, letter decisions of government agencies and published reports of administrative bodies; and "undisputably authentic" documents which the plaintiff has identified as a basis of his claims and which the defendant has attached as exhibits to his motion to dismiss. Hunter v. United States, No. 00-cv-0036, 2000 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20206, at *7 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 15, 2000). See generally Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus. Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196-97 (3d Cir. 1993).

However, when the motion to dismiss attacks the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, no presumptive truthfulness attaches to the allegation included in the plaintiff's complaint. Carpet Group Int'l v. Oriental Rug Imps. Ass'n, Inc., 227 F.3d 62, 69 (3d Cir. 2000) (quoting Mortensen, 549 F.2d at 891). Thus, the Court may weigh all of the available evidence to satisfy itself that subject matter jurisdiction indeed exists. Id. It is important to note also that the existence of disputed material facts will not preclude the Court from evaluating the jurisdictional allegations set forth in the complaint. Gould Elecs., Inc. V. United States, 220 F.3d 169, 176 (3d Cir. 2000).

II. Rule 12(b)(6)

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) provides for the dismissal of a complaint, in whole or in part, for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. FED. R. CIV. P. 12(b)(6). Dismissal is appropriate only if, accepting as true all the facts alleged in the complaint, a plaintiff has not pleaded "enough facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face," Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007), meaning enough factual allegations "'to raise a reasonable expectation that discovery will reveal evidence of'" each necessary element. Phillips v. County of Allegheny, 515 F.3d 224, 234 (3d Cir. 2008) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556); see also Kost v. Kozakiewicz, 1 F.3d 176, 183 (3d Cir. 1993) (requiring a complaint to set forth information from which each element of a claim may be inferred). In light of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2), the statement need only "'give the defendant fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.'" Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 93 (2007) (per curiam) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555). "[T]he factual detail in a complaint [must not be] so undeveloped that it does not provide a defendant [with] the type of notice of claim which is contemplated by Rule 8." Phillips, 515 F.3d at 232; see also Airborne Beepers & Video, Inc. v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 499 F.3d 663, 667 (7th Cir. 2007).

In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court should consider the allegations in the complaint, exhibits attached to the complaint, and matters of public record. See Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). The Court may also consider "undisputedly authentic" documents when the plaintiff's claims are based on the documents and the defendant has attached copies of the documents to the motion to dismiss. Id. The Court need not assume the plaintiff can prove facts that were not alleged in the complaint, see City of Pittsburgh v. W. Penn Power Co., 147 F.3d 256, 263 & n.13 (3d Cir. 1998), or credit a complaint's "'bald assertions'" or "'legal conclusions,'" Morse v. Lower Merion Sch. Dist., 132 F.3d 902, 906 (3d Cir. 1997) (quoting In re Burlington Coat Factory Sec. ...


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.