L et al v. JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD et al
ORDER granting 10 MOTION to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Complaint. Plaintiffs may amend their complaint not later than 10/10/2013. If Plaintiffs do not file an amended complaint by 10/10/2013, the Clerk is directed to close the case. Signed by JUDGE RICHARD SMOAK on 9/26/2013. (jem)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
NORTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
PANAMA CITY DIVISION
A.L., by P.L.B. and P.L.B for herself,
CASE NO. 5:13-cv-85-RS-GRJ
JACKSON COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD,
Before me are Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff’s Complaint and
Incorporated Memorandum of Law (Doc. 10) and Plaintiff’s Response in
Opposition to JCSB’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 12).
On March 15, 2011, Plaintiffs filed a Verified Amended Request for
Impartial Due Process Hearing in DOAH Case. No. 10-10485 (“AL I”). This
resulted in an administrative hearing that concluded on April 5, 2012. (Doc. 10-1,
p. 6). Plaintiff challenged many aspects of A.L.’s education including the
sufficiency of A.L.’s existing June 2010 Individualized Education Program
(“IEP”), A.L.’s November 2010 IEP, the implementation of the June 2010 IEP, the
provision of assistive technology, and A.L.’s performance on standardized tests.
The Final Order from the administrative hearing was entered on December 27,
On July 22, 2013, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint against Defendant
asserting the following claims: Count I for “IDEA Procedural Violations that
Denied FAPE,” Count II for “IDEA Substantive Violations,” Count III for
“Section 504/ADA Discrimination against Student,” Count IV for “Retaliation
Against Mother and Student Under IDEA, 504, and/or ADA,” and Count V for
“Fourth Amendment Claim.” (Doc. 9). Defendant moves to dismiss the amended
complaint for failure to exhaust administrative remedies.
In order to overcome a motion to dismiss, a plaintiff must allege sufficient
facts to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face. See Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007). Granting a motion to dismiss is appropriate if it is
clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proven
consistent with the allegations of the complaint. Hishon v. King & Spalding, 467
U.S. 69, 104 S. Ct. 2229, 2232 (1984). I must construe all allegations in the
complaint as true and in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Shands Teaching
Hosp. and Clinics, Inc. v. Beech Street Corp., 208 F.3d 1308, 1310 (11th Cir.
2000)(citing Lowell v. American Cyanamid Co., 177 F.3d 1228, 1229 (11th Cir.
“Even though a failure-to-exhaust is non-jurisdictional, it is like a defense
for lack of jurisdiction in one important sense: Exhaustion of administrative
remedies is a ‘matter in abatement, and ordinarily [does] not deal with the
merits.’ ” Bryant v. Rich, 530 F.3d 1368, 1374 (11th Cir. 2008)(quoting 5C Charles
Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1360 at 78
n.15 (3d ed. 2004)). Failure to exhaust administrative remedies “is not ordinarily
the proper subject for a summary judgment; instead, it ‘should be raised in a
motion to dismiss, or be treated as such if raised in a motion for summary
judgment.’ ” Id. at 1375 (quoting Ritza v. Int’l Longshoremen’s &
Warehousemen’s Union, 837 F.2d 365, 368-69 (9th Cir. 1988). “That motions to
dismiss for failure to exhaust are not expressly mentioned in Rule 12(b) is not
unusual or problematic. … We regard exhaustion of administrative remedies as a
matter of judicial administration.” Id. The rationale behind the exhaustion
requirement is “to permit the department the first opportunity to investigate the
alleged discriminatory or retaliatory practices, and a plaintiff’s judicial complaint
is thereby limited by the scope of the investigation that can reasonably be expected
to grow out of the administrative charge of discrimination or retaliation.” Basel v.
Secretary of Defense, 507 Fed. Appx. 873, 875 (11th Cir. 2013). “In deciding a
motion to dismiss for a failure to exhaust nonjudicial remedies, the court may look
beyond the pleadings and decide disputed issues of fact.” Wyatt v. Terhune, 315
F.3d 1108, 1119-20 (9th Cir. 2003)(quoted by Bryant, 530 F.3d at 1374).
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”) allows parents to “present
complaints with respect to any matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or
education placement of the child, or the provision of a [Free Appropriate Public
Education (“FAPE”)] to such child.” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(6). Under the IDEA,
parents must first have “an impartial due process hearing, which shall be conducted
by the State education agency or by the local education agency, as determined by
State law or by the State educational agency.” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(1)(A). In
Florida, these hearings are conducted by the Division of Administrative Hearings.
“Once the administrative proceedings are complete, the IDEA provides that either
party may challenge those proceedings in state or federal court.” J.P. v. Cherokee
Cnty. Bd. of Ed., 218 Fed. Appx. 911, 913 (11th Cir. 2007). Failure to exhaust
administrative remedies will result in dismissal of the civil action. Id.
Additionally, the Eleventh Circuit has interpreted the IDEA’s exhaustion
requirement to apply to a “ ‘broad’ spectrum of claims” including those under the
ADA, Section 504, and the First Amendment. Id.; M.T.V. v. Dekalb Cnty. Sch.
Dist., 446 F.3d 1153, 1158 (11th Cir. 2006). “Thus, whether claims asserting the
rights of disabled children are brought pursuant to the IDEA, the ADA, Section
504, or the Constitution, they must first be exhausted in state administrative
Plaintiffs’ amended complaint states:
The IDEA claims in this case were exhausted in DOAH 1010485E, which was filed on November 24, 2010. The DOAH final
order was filed December 27, 2012.
The Section 504, ADA and Fourth Amendment claims were
exhausted in DOAH 10-10485E, which was filed November 24, 2010
and arose after August 15, 2007.
(Doc. 9, p. 2). However, the only claims that were exhausted at the administrative
hearing were during the two-year period from November 24, 2008, to November
24, 2010. (Doc. 10-1, p. 4-5)(“On May 26, 2011, Judge Stevenson entered an
Order striking all of Petitioner’s section 504 and ADA claims, as well as claims for
relief that occurred more than two years prior to the date of the original request for
due process that was filed on November 24, 2010); see also (Doc. 10-2, p.
2)(“Petitioner’s evidentiary presentation at the hearing may include the period
preceding two years before November 24, 2010, but the relief sought is limited to
that two year period.”).
The federal court only has jurisdiction to review claims that were exhausted
at the due process hearing. Because Plaintiffs’ counts include claims that were
striken from the administrative hearing and outside the two-year period the hearing
was limited to, the amended complaint is dismissed with leave to amend.
1. The relief requested in Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 10) is
2. Plaintiffs may amend their complaint not later than October 10, 2013, and
limit the claims to only those exhausted at the administrative hearing.
3. If Plaintiffs do not file an amended complaint by October 10, 2013, the
Clerk is directed to close the case.
ORDERED on September 26, 2013.
/s/ Richard Smoak
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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