L.B. et al v. The New York City Department of Education

Filing 14

ORDER. Protecting the privacy interests of the minor child Plaintiff in keeping confidential that child's education and medical history constitutes a "compelling reason" to seal the record and outweighs the public's interest in ac cess. As a result, the Court orders that the parties may file a copy of the certified administrative record in this case under seal. Granting 12 JOINT LETTER MOTION to Seal Document 7 Order for Initial Pretrial Conference, addressed to Judge Alis on J. Nathan from New York City Department of Education dated 9-18-2015., JOINT LETTER MOTION for Leave to File Excess Pages addressed to Judge Alison J. Nathan from New York City Department of Education dated 9-18-2015. Document filed by F.B., L.B., The New York City Department of Education. (Signed by Judge Alison J. Nathan on 9/22/2015) (rjm)

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USDCSDNY DOCUMENT ELECTRONICALLY FILED #· UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK ~ILED: ~SEP 2 2. 2u1. L.B. et al., Plaintiffs, 15-CV-3176 (AJN) -vORDER New York City Dept of Ed, Defendant. ALISON J. NATHAN, District Judge: On September 18, 2015, the parties in the above-captioned matter jointly requested that the record of the minor child Plaintiff's administrative determination pursuant to the IDEA be filed under seal. See Dkt. No. 12. The parties further indicate that this action will likely be resolved by cross-motions for summary judgment on the basis of the administrative record. Under prevailing Second Circuit law, "documents used by parties moving for, or opposing, summary judgment should not remain under seal absent the most compelling reasons." Lugosch v. Pyramid Co. of Onondaga, 435 F.3d 110, 121 (2d Cir. 2006) (quoting Joy v. North, 692 F.2d 880, 893 (2d Cir. 1982). "[T]he presumption of access [to these judicial documents] can be overcome only by specific, on-the-record findings that higher values necessitate a narrowly tailored sealing." Id. at 126. Such "countervailing factors" include "the privacy interests of those resisting disclosure." Id. at 120 (quoting United States v. Amodeo, 71 F.3d 1044, 1050 (2d Cir. 1995)). The fact that particular records have not "historically been open to the press and general public" weighs in favor of sealing. Id. Relatedly, "the degree to which the subject matter is traditionally considered private rather than public" is an important consideration. Amodeo, 71 F.3d at 1051. 1 Under this framework, "higher values necessitate a narrowly tailored sealing" of the minor child Plaintiffs administrative records. See Lugosch, 435 F.3d at 126. The administrative record here includes the minor child Plaintiffs "educational and medical history and evaluations." See Dkt. No. 12 at 3. These educational records and related administrative proceedings are not "open to the press and general public." See 20 U.S.C. § 1232g(b) (prohibiting release of education records without written consent of parents); 34 C.F.R. § 300.512(c)(2) (permitting parents to choose whether a hearing is open or closed to the public). For these reasons, courts in this Circuit have routinely allowed administrative records underlying IDEA cases to be filed under seal to protect the privacy interests of minor child plaintiffs. See, e.g., C.L. v. Scarsdale Union Free Sch. Dist., 913 F. Supp. 2d 26, 30 (S.D.N.Y. 2012); A.M ex rel. Y.N. v. New York City Dep't of Educ., 964 F. Supp. 2d 270, 277 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). In sum, protecting the privacy interests of the minor child Plaintiff in keeping confidential that child's education and medical history constitutes a "compelling reason" to seal the record and outweighs the public's interest in access. As a result, the Court orders that the parties may file a copy of the certified administrative record in this case under seal. SO ORDERED. Dated: September 2015 New York, New York United States District Judge 2

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