OCONEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT v. AB
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 10 Motion to Dismiss Counterclaim. Ordered by U.S. District Judge CLAY D LAND on 01/15/2015. (CGC)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
OCONEE COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT,
A.B., by and through L.B.,
CASE NO. 3:14-CV-72 (CDL)
O R D E R
Defendant A.B. is a student with a disability covered by the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. §
1400, et seq., as amended by the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Improvement Act of 2004, Pub. L. No. 108–446, 118 Stat.
seizures, brought a Due Process Complaint against Plaintiff Oconee
County School District because the School District did not provide
A.B. with an aide trained to administer his seizure medication on
the school bus.
Georgia Office of State Administrative Hearings
Administrative Law Judge Kimberly W. Schroer ruled in favor of
Final Decision 48-49, A.B. v. Oconee Cnty. Sch. Dist., OSAH-
DOE-SE-1417873-108-SCHROER, ECF No. 1-1 [hereinafter ALJ Order].
The ALJ also found that A.B.’s mother, Defendant L.B., should be
reimbursed the cost of driving A.B. to and from school until the
because L.B. “share[d] the blame for derailing the cooperative
[individualized education program] process,” the ALJ only awarded
L.B. fifty percent of her transportation costs.
The School District appeals the ALJ’s final decision, arguing
that the ALJ erred in at least twenty different ways.
L.B. (“the Family”) filed a Counterclaim.
The School District
seeks to dismiss that Counterclaim for failure to state a claim.
Although the Counterclaim is not entirely clear and its supporting
survive a motion to dismiss.
Accordingly, as explained in the
remainder of this Order, the School District’s Motion to Dismiss
(ECF No. 10) is, for the most part, denied.
MOTION TO DISMISS STANDARD
“To survive a motion to dismiss” under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6), “a complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, accepted as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.’”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678
(2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
allegations “to raise a right to relief above the speculative
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
In other words, the factual
allegations must “raise a reasonable expectation that discovery
will reveal evidence of” the plaintiff’s claims.
Id. at 556.
complaint simply because ‘it strikes a savvy judge that actual
proof of those facts is improbable.’” Watts v. Fla. Int’l Univ.,
495 F.3d 1289, 1295 (11th Cir. 2007) (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at
excruciating detail why the ALJ’s decision in the Family’s favor
affirmative claims for relief.
Those claims are (1) the ALJ erred
by reducing the transportation costs for which the Family should
be reimbursed; (2) the ALJ erred by requiring L.B. to sign a
release to let the school talk to A.B.’s doctors; and (3) the
School District has failed to comply with the ALJ’s order and
continues to violate A.B.’s IDEA rights by acting with hostility
toward his mother.
The Counterclaim also includes a prayer for
attorney’s fees and asks that the Court award the Family “all
other appropriate relief.”
Defs.’ Answer & Countercl. 73 ¶ 4, 75
¶¶ 6-7, ECF No. 6.
The issue for the Court to decide today is whether the Family
may maintain its Counterclaim.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(A);
Under the IDEA, a civil action may
C.F.R. § 300.516(a).
reviewed the Family’s seventy-six page Answer and Counterclaim but
was unable to find any short and plain statement that the ALJ
In fact, the Counterclaim primarily argues why the ALJ was
Thus, the School District’s argument that the Family has
not stated how it has been aggrieved to give it standing to assert
a counterclaim is not frivolous.
While a brief cannot substitute
for an actual pleading, the Family’s brief does shed light on the
arguable intention of the Counterclaim.
The Family complains that
violated, the ALJ erred by reducing L.B.’s transportation costs
award and ordering L.B. to sign a release to allow the School
District to review A.B.’s medical records and consult with A.B.’s
neurologist before changing its general procedure regarding the
administration of A.B.’s seizure medicine.1
Although counsel could have made these claims clearer in his
straining the concept of notice pleading, that the Family asserts
For A.B., continuous seizures lasting more than five minutes can be
life threatening. For such seizures, A.B.’s anti-seizure medicine must
be administered rectally.
Before the Due Process Action, the School
District’s policy was that if A.B. had a prolonged seizure on the bus
(which apparently has not happened), then the bus driver would call 911
and attempt to reach A.B.’s home or school, where emergency medical
personnel could meet the bus to administer the drug.
The ALJ ordered
that the School District was not required to change this policy until
L.B. signed a release allowing the School District to review A.B.’s
medical records and speak to his neurologist. ALJ Order at 49. But the
ALJ also ordered that the School District provide a trained aide to
administer the drug in the event that the bus cannot reach A.B.’s home or
school within five minutes. Id.
The Court also finds that the Family sufficiently
alleges that the School District continues to hinder cooperation
“aggrieved parties” within the meaning of the IDEA.
and L.B. prevailed on most of their claims before the ALJ, they
did not receive all the relief they contend is due.
See Diatta v.
Dist. of Columbia, 319 F. Supp. 2d 57, 63 (D.D.C. 2004) (“A party
is considered “aggrieved” under the Act where relief requested in
Dauphin Sch. Dist., 765 F.3d 260, 278 (3d Cir. 2014) (finding that
“noncompliant school district” was “‘aggrieved’ for purposes of
Therefore, A.B. and L.B. may pursue these claims
through their Counterclaim. Furthermore, if A.B. and L.B. are the
prevailing parties in this action, they may seek attorney’s fees
20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I).2
The School District argues that the Court should dismiss the Family’s
“claim” for attorney’s fees. The Family listed attorney’s fees and costs
in its prayer for relief to preserve its right to seek such fees at the
appropriate time under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I), just as the
School District listed fees and costs in its prayer for relief so it
U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(II) or (III). The Court will handle attorney’s
fees and costs at the appropriate time on a motion under Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 54(d) and 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B).
The School District also criticizes the following allegations
by the Family in their Counterclaim: 1) an attempt to reserve for
the District Court certain claims in their Due Process Complaint;
District during and after the Due Process Hearing; and (3) claims
for relief under Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act
of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (“Rehab Act”), and the Americans With
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq. (“ADA”).
Ex. B, Due Process Compl. 40-41, ECF No. 1-2 at 41-42 (reserving
certain rights and claims); Defs.’ Answer & Countercl. 40 ¶ 104
(alleging that the School District violated the Rehab Act and the
The Family now clarifies that it is not asserting any
longer asserting any claims based on its cooperation with the
School District during or after the Due Process Hearing.
Family also acknowledges that it is not asserting any claims under
the Rehab Act or the ADA.
Accordingly, to the extent that the
Family’s Counterclaim may be construed to include those claims,
Counterclaim (ECF No. 10) is granted in part and denied in part.
The following claims asserted by the Family in their Counterclaim
remain pending for adjudication: (1) the ALJ erred by reducing the
transportation costs for which the Family should be reimbursed;
(2) the ALJ erred by requiring L.B. to sign a release to let the
school talk to A.B.’s doctors; and (3) the School District has
failed to comply with the ALJ’s order and continues to violate
A.B.’s IDEA rights by acting with hostility toward his mother.
The Court will handle attorney’s fees and costs at the appropriate
time on a motion under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 54(d) and
20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B).
To the extent that the Family asserted
other affirmative claims in its Counterclaim, those claims are
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 15th day of January, 2015.
S/Clay D. Land
CLAY D. LAND
CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA
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