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L.G. v. Fayette County Kentucky Board of Education

United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Central Division, Lexington

June 12, 2018

L.G., by and through his next friends, his parents, G.G. and L.G, Plaintiffs,
v.
FAYETTE COUNTY KENTUCKY BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          DANNY C. REEVES JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is pending for consideration of Defendant Fayette County Kentucky Board of Education’s (“the Board”) motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s Amended Complaint pursuant to Rules 12(b)(1) and (6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. [Record No. 9] For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant the motion.

         I.

         Plaintiff L.G., a minor child, is a former student at Morton Middle School. [Record No. 8, ¶¶ 1, 6] While attending Morton in late September 2016, L.G. was diagnosed with an e-coli infection and, as a result, was required not to attend the school. [Id. at ¶¶ 6-7] Sometime thereafter, L.G.’s mother contacted the school administration and provided a medical statement from the plaintiff’s physician stating that he would not be allowed to return to school for an extended period of time. [Id. at ¶ 8] L.G. alleges that, at some unknown time, his mother discovered that the medical statement was not accepted by the school when she found out L.G. was receiving failing grades.

         In late November 2017, L.G. and his parents were contacted by a Cabinet for Health and Family Services social worker regarding a complaint filed that alleged L.G. was dependent, neglected or abused. [Id. at ¶ 11] The plaintiff and his parents became aware during this time that a truancy petition had been filed against L.G.’s parents for his absences. L.G. was approved for HomeBound instruction in January 2017, and the truancy charges were later withdrawn. [Id. at ¶¶ 16-17] The plaintiff’s parents withdrew L.G. from Fayette County Public Schools in March 2017 as a result of the truancy charges and alleged lack of attention to L.G.’s right to an appropriate education.

         L.G. alleges that from September 2016 to January 2017, the Board failed in their obligation to identify L.G. with a disability and, as a result, he was denied a free and appropriate education in violation of § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“§ 504”). [Id. at ¶¶ 23-24] He also claims that the Board retaliated against him in violation of state and federal law. [Id. at ¶¶ 25-33]

         II.

         The defendant’s argument that the plaintiff has failed to exhaust his administrative remedies contests this Court’s subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. A 12(b)(1) motion “can either attack the claim of jurisdiction on its face, in which case all allegations of the plaintiff must be considered as true, or it can attack the factual basis for jurisdiction, in which case the trial court must weigh the evidence and the plaintiff bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists.” DLX, Inc. v. Kentucky, 381 F.3d 511, 516 (6th Cir. 2004). A facial challenge to the Court’s subject matter jurisdiction, such as the defendant’s challenge here, “merely questions the sufficiency of the pleading.” Ohio Nat. Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990). “In reviewing such a facial attack, a trial court takes the allegations in the complaint as true, which is a similar safeguard employed under 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss.” Id. “[T]he party claiming jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating that the court has jurisdiction over the subject matter.” Id. at 324.

         The Court must determine whether the complaint states a viable claim for relief under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. It “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 (2007)). The factual allegations must be sufficient to raise a right to relief above the speculative level, Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555, and permit the Court to “draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. While a complaint need not contain detailed factual allegations, it must contain more than an “unadorned, the defendant-unlawfully-harmed-me accusation.” Id. “A pleading that offers ‘labels and conclusions’ or a ‘formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action’” is insufficient. Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).

         III.

         A. L.G. § 504 Claim

         The Board argues that L.G.’s claim that he was denied a free and appropriate education in violation of § 504 should be dismissed because L.G. failed to exhaust his administrative remedies. It contends that, although L.G. did not expressly bring a claim under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), he was required to comply with the IDEA’s exhaustion requirements.

         The IDEA requires recipients of federal funds to furnish a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) to children with disabilities. See 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(1) (2012). This guarantee is protected with certain procedural safeguards. Id. § 1415. Parties may present a complaint concerning the provision of FAPE, id. § 1415(a)(6), and may be entitled to a “due process hearing” before an impartial hearing officer. Id. § 1415(f). A party aggrieved by the result of an IDEA due process hearing may appeal the result to the state educational agency. Id. § 1415(g). The outcome of the administrative review hearing may then be challenged in district court. Id. § 1415(i)(2).

         These exhaustion requirements also apply to claims brought under other federal laws such as the ADA and § 504 when they seek “relief that is also available under [the IDEA].” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(1). The United States Supreme Court recently explained that whether claims brought under other federal laws must comply with the IDEA’s exhaustion requirements “hinges on whether [the] lawsuit seeks relief for the denial of a free appropriate ...


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