A. et al v. Wentzville R-IV School District et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that motion of defendant Wentzville R-IV School District to dismiss Counts I, II, and III of the first amended complaint [Doc. #25] is granted as to Count I only. An order of partial dismissal and remand will accompany this Memorandum and Order. Signed by District Judge Carol E. Jackson on 4/6/2015. (KMS)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
J.A. and C.A. on behalf of
themselves, and C.A., as Next
Friend of G.A., a minor,
WENTZVILLE R-IV SCHOOL
DISTRICT and MISSOURI
DEPARTMENT OF ELEMENTARY
AND SECONDARY EDUCATION,
Case No. 4:14-CV-1839-CEJ
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on the motions of defendants Wentzville R-IV
School District and Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to
dismiss the first amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(1) and (6). Plaintiffs have filed a response in opposition, and the issues are
Plaintiffs are the parents of G.A., a minor child, who has been diagnosed with
autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and sensory processing
During the 2011–2012 school year, G.A. was enrolled as a third-grade
student in regular education classes at defendant Wentzville R–IV School District.
In December 2011, plaintiffs filed a complaint with the United States
Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, alleging that the defendant school
district discriminated against G.A. because of her disabilities.
In the same month,
plaintiffs asked the school district to evaluate G.A. to determine her eligibility to
receive special education services pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq.
The school district convened a
multi-disciplinary team that conducted an evaluation including social, emotional,
behavioral, and language assessments.
On March 2, 2012, the evaluation team
determined that G.A. did not meet the eligibility criteria to qualify as a student with a
disability and that she was not eligible to receive special education or related services
under the IDEA.
In response to this decision, plaintiffs requested an independent education
On May 16, 2012, a multi-disciplinary team again concluded that G.A.
did not meet the eligibility criteria to qualify as a student with a disability.
conclusion of the 2011–2012 school year, plaintiffs withdrew G.A. from the school
district and gave notification of their intent to seek reimbursement for private school
tuition and expenses.
On June 29, 2012, the school district filed a due process complaint with the
Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) pursuant to 20
U.S.C. § 1415 and Mo .Rev. Stat. § 162.961, seeking a determination that its
evaluations and eligibility decisions regarding G.A. were legally correct.
moved to dismiss, arguing that the agency did not have subject matter jurisdiction
under the IDEA to review the matter.
denied plaintiffs' motion to dismiss.
On October 8, 2012, a hearing panel for DESE
On October 18, 2012, plaintiffs filed a waiver of
right to seek reimbursement of tuition and expenses associated with their placement
of G.A. in a private school.
On January 22, 2013, a due process hearing was held by a three-member
Plaintiffs did not attend or participate in the hearing.
March 12, 2013, the panel issued a written decision finding that the defendant
properly evaluated G.A. and that the denial of special education services was
On April 26, 2013, plaintiffs filed a petition for review in the Circuit Court of St.
Charles County, Missouri, seeking reversal of the administrative panel’s decision.
Because plaintiffs were seeking review of a decision issued pursuant to the IDEA (20
U.S.C. § 1415), the school district removed the action to this Court, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1441(c)(1)(A). Aumann v. Wentzville R-IV School Dist., 2014 WL 1648742
(E.D. Mo. Apr. 23, 2014).
In their petition for review, plaintiffs argued that (1) the
administrative panel did not have subject matter jurisdiction to issue a decision
regarding the defendant's due process complaint; and (2) that even if the panel did
have jurisdiction over the due process complaint, it lost jurisdiction once plaintiffs
withdrew their request to seek reimbursement of G.A.'s private school tuition and
The Court found that plaintiffs failed to allege an actual, ongoing case or
controversy, and thus the issues raised in their brief on appeal were moot. Id. at *3.
The Court noted that plaintiffs did not explain how a favorable judicial decision would
redress any actual injury.
Plaintiffs were not challenging G.A.’s individual
identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of a free and
appropriate public education.
Regardless of whether plaintiffs had previously
multi-disciplinary team, plaintiffs subsequently removed G.A. from the defendant
school district and waived any right to seek tuition reimbursement.
Indeed, even if
1 Plaintiffs' brief on appeal also argued that the panel applied the incorrect standard of law for
the recusal of a panel member. Plaintiffs subsequently withdrew this argument.
the Court were to hold that the hearing panel did not have jurisdiction to review
defendant’s due process complaint, G.A.’s current education would not be affected
because G.A. was no longer enrolled in the defendant school district and was not
subject to an individualized education plan.
Furthermore, a judicial decision would
not affect plaintiffs’ right to tuition reimbursement because they had waived the right
to seek that benefit.
As such, the Court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter
On June 10, 2013 and August 29, 2013, respectively, plaintiffs filed a charge
and amended charge of discrimination and retaliation under the Missouri Human
Rights Act (MHRA) with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) against
the defendant school district and the DESE. On June 23, 2014, the MCHR issued its
notice of right to sue, providing plaintiffs 90 days to file a civil action in state court.
On September 15, 2014, plaintiffs filed this action in the Circuit Court of St.
In the present complaint plaintiffs again seek judicial review of the
March 12, 2013 administrative decision (Count I). Plaintiffs also assert claims of
disability discrimination and retaliation based on the MHRA (Counts II-IV).
action was again removed and the defendants have now filed the instant motions to
dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.
The claim asserted in Count I of the instant first amended complaint is identical
to the claim set forth in plaintiffs’ previous complaint which was dismissed.
Therefore, the Court’s analysis of Count I is the same as its analysis of the previous
Plaintiffs still have not alleged facts showing the existence of an actual case or
controversy. See Aumann, 2014 WL 1648742, at *3.
Therefore, Count I must be
dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
The school district premised removal of this action on the federal question
raised by the claim in Count I.
Because sole federal claim will be dismissed, the
Court has no jurisdiction to retain the MHRA claims in Counts II through IV. The
Court will not address the motions to dismiss these claims as they will be remanded to
the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it
appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that motion of defendant Wentzville R-IV School
District to dismiss Counts I, II, and III of the first amended complaint [Doc. #25] is
granted as to Count I only.
An order of partial dismissal and remand will accompany this Memorandum and
CAROL E. JACKSON
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 6th day of April, 2015.
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