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Victoria Brown, On Behalf of Herself and Her Minor Son, R.P. v. the School District of Philadelphia

July 26, 2012

VICTORIA BROWN, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND HER MINOR SON, R.P. PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.

MEMORANDUM RE: DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

Victoria Brown ("Plaintiff") commenced this civil action on behalf of herself and her minor son, R.P., by filing a Complaint against the School District of Philadelphia (the "District"), alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. (Count I), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ("Section 504"), 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Count II), and the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (Count III). Presently before the Court is the District's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act and ADA Claims (ECF No. 6), pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.*fn1 For the reasons that follow, the District's Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

The following facts are drawn from the Complaint. In 2003, a pediatrician diagnosed R.P. -- a fifteen-year-old student who attends Fells High School, located in the School District of Philadelphia -- with Attention Deficit Disorder ("ADHD"). (Cplt. §§ 11, 14.) This diagnosis was promptly communicated to the District. (Id. § 14.) In 2005, the District evaluated R.P. and determined that he was not eligible for services under the IDEA because, according to the District, he was not a student with a disability. (Id. § 16.)

In October 2007, apparently as a result of R.P.'s behavioral problems, Plaintiff and the District entered into a service agreement, pursuant to Section 504 (the "504 Plan"), which provided certain accommodations to R.P. based on his ADHD. (Id. § 17.) At that time, the District did not provide Plaintiff with notice of her procedural safeguard rights. (Id. § 18.) As a result, Plaintiff was unaware that the IDEA and Section 504 limited the time within which she could request a due process hearing to challenge the 504 Plan. (Id.)

In April 2008, Plaintiff became dissatisfied with the accommodations offered to R.P. under the 504 Plan. (Id. § 19.)Plaintiff remained unaware that the IDEA and Section 504 limited the time within which she could request a due process hearing. (Id.)At all times, District staff represented to Plaintiff that the accommodations provided to R.P. were sufficient to meet his needs, and that the 504 Plan was being implemented completely. (Id. § 20.)

During the 2008-2009 school year, R.P. exhibited behavioral problems that interfered with his learning. (Id. § 22.) In late 2008, Plaintiff suffered two strokes, which impacted her speech abilities and required hospitalization and inpatient rehabilitation for six months. (Id. § 21.)

In April 2009, Plaintiff notified the District that she was not satisfied with the educational services being provided to R.P. (Id. § 26.) In June 2009, the District completed a Reevaluation Report for R.P., concluding that he was eligible for special education services and had a primary disability. (Id. § 23.)

On July 8, 2009, the District convened a settlement meeting, at which the District offered an Individualized Education Plan ("IEP"), pursuant to the IDEA. (Id. § 24.) At that meeting, Plaintiff understood that the proposed IEP was available to R.P. only if she signed a settlement agreement. (Id.) A certified school psychologist did not attend the July 8, 2009 meeting. (Id.) Nor was it an IEP Team meeting. (Id.)

Subsequently, on or about July 9, 2009, the District proposed an amended IEP, identifying R.P. as eligible for special education and providing certain services. (Id. § 25.) However, the District never convened an IEP Team meeting to review this new proposed IEP. (Id.) Notwithstanding the foregoing, from March 2009 through late in the 2010-2011 school year, R.P. received no special education services at all. (Id. § 27.)

On December 30, 2010, Plaintiff filed an administrative complaint against the District, alleging that, among other things, the District had failed to comply with its "child find" duties under the IDEA and Section 504, failed to provide R.P. with a free appropriate public education ("FAPE") under the IDEA and Section 504, and failed to allow Plaintiff to participate appropriately in R.P.'s educational planning process. On June 28, 2011, an administrative hearing officer issued a decision, concluding that the District complied with its legal obligations under the IDEA and Section 504, and that Plaintiff and R.P. were entitled to no relief. (See Cplt., Exh. A.)

As noted above, on September 23, 2011, Plaintiff commenced the instant action on behalf of herself and R.P. by filing a Complaint (ECF No. 1) against the District, alleging violations of the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA. Plaintiff seeks the following relief: reversal of the administrative hearing officer's decision; compensatory education and monetary damages; reasonable attorney's fees and costs for the administrative and federal proceedings; and any other relief that the Court deems appropriate.

On February 29, 2012, the District separately filed an Answer to Plaintiff's IDEA Claim (ECF No. 5), and a Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Rehabilitation Act and ADA Claims (ECF No. 6). On March 30, 2012, Plaintiff filed a Response in Opposition to the District's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 10.) The District did not file a Reply.

II. Legal Standards

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over the instant matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i).

B. Standard of Review

A claim may be dismissed under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure for "failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A valid complaint requires only "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2).

Generally, a district court may consider only facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments on a motion to dismiss. Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel, 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir.1994). The court may also take into consideration a "document integral to or explicitly relied upon in the complaint." In re Burlington ...


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