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STANTON v. BOARD OF EDUC. OF THE NORWICH CENT. SCH

December 30, 1983

Wendy STANTON, an infant, by her mother and next friend, Judy STANTON, Jonathan Bowles, an infant, by his guardian and next friend, Joyce Clark, on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF the NORWICH CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Robert L. Cleveland, Superintendent of the Norwich Central School District, and Gordon Ambach, Commissioner of the New York State Education Department, Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MINER

MEMORANDUM - DECISION and ORDER

MINER, District Judge.

 I

 This action involves the provision of educational services in New York State to handicapped school-age children with special educational needs. Plaintiffs assert claims pursuant to the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975, 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 29 U.S.C. § 794, the due process and equal protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution, and Article 89 of the N.Y. Education Law. Jurisdiction is asserted pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1343, as well as 20 U.S.C. § 1415 and the doctrine of pendent jurisdicction. Defendant Ambach now moves to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), and the "Norwich" defendants move to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). Also before the Court is plaintiffs' motion pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 23 for class certification.

 II

 Plaintiff Wendy Stanton is an eight year old autistic child requiring special educational services. During the 1981-82 and 1982-83 ten month school years, Wendy attended an education program at the Children's Unit of the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at Binghamton. Wendy was placed in that program by the Norwich Central School District Committee on the Handicapped. In the summer of 1982, Wendy attended a program which was run by the Broome Developmental Services in Norwich, New York.

 Plaintiff Jonathan Bowles is a nine year old hyperactive and neurologically impaired child. He has severe problems with his speech and his gross motor skills.Jonathan also had attended the Binghamton program during the ten month school year for the past two years. Unfortunately, Jonathan was unable to locate a summer program in 1982 and, as a result, apparently lost much of the progress he achieved during the previous ten month school year.

 On July 1, 1983, this Court heard oral argument on plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction requiring "defendants to immediately provide and/or ensure the provision of appropriate special education and related services to plaintiffs during the summer months of July and August." A hearing then was scheduled for July 5, 1983 to determine whether plaintiffs could establish the irreparable harm required for the granting of preliminary injunctive relief. Fed.R.Civ.P. 65; see, e.g., Bell & Howell: Mamiya Co. v. Masel Supply Co. Corp., 719 F.2d 42 at 45 (2d Cir.1983). However, on the 5th of July, plaintiffs informed the Court that summer placements had been secured for each of the named infant plaintiffs, and that plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction was withdrawn.

 In light of plaintiffs having obtained summer placements, defendants now move to dismiss the complaint, contending there presently is no case or controversy before the Court. Additionally, the Norwich defendants maintain that the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted, since they have not refused to provide, or arrange for, special educational services for these plaintiffs on a twelve month basis, and since the statutes upon which plaintiffs rely do not require the provision of a twelve month program for all handicapped children.

 III

 Essentially, the contention advanced by defendants in support of their motions to dismiss the complaint is that plaintiffs, having obtained summer placements in 1983, may not seek declaratory or injunctive relief from this Court concerning New York's scheme for the funding of summer education programs for handicapped children.In other words, defendants maintain that no case or controversy presently exists between these parties. However, apart from this bald assertion, defendants have furnished not one scintilla of authority in support of their motions to dismiss this action.

 In opposition to these motions, plaintiffs claim this action falls within the well established doctrine that a case will not be considered moot when "(1) the challenged action [is] in its duration too short to be fully litigated prior to its cessation or expiration, and (2) there [is] a reasonable expectation that the same complaining party would be subjected to the same action again." Securities and Exchange Commission v. Sloan, 436 U.S. 103, 109, 98 S. Ct. 1702, 1707, 56 L. Ed. 2d 148 (1978) (quoting Weinstein v. Bradford, 423 U.S. 147, 149, 96 S. Ct. 347, 348, 46 L. Ed. 2d 350 (1975)) (emphasis by the Court). See also First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765, 774-75, 98 S. Ct. 1407, 1414, 55 L. Ed. 2d 707 (1978); Gerstein v. Pugh, 420 U.S. 103, 110, n. 11, 95 S. Ct. 854, 861, 43 L. Ed. 2d 54 (1975); Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 125, 93 S. Ct. 705, 712, 35 L. Ed. 2d 147 (1973). However, plaintiffs' contention that this action falls into this narrow class of cases, also referred to as "capable of repetition, yet evading review," Southern Pacific Terminal Co. v. Interstate Commerce Commission, 219 U.S. 498, 515, 31 S. Ct. 279, 283, 55 L. Ed. 310 (1911), must be viewed in light of the recent Supreme Court decision in City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 103 S. Ct. 1660, 75 L. Ed. 2d 675 (U.S. 1983).

 In Lyons, plaintiff sued the City of Los Angeles, alleging that after being stopped for a traffic violation, and notwithstanding plaintiffs' lack of resistance, city police officers placed plaintiff in a "chokehold" which rendered him unconscious and caused damage to his larynx. Leaving intact Lyons' claim for damages, the Court held there was no case or controversy before it with respect to plaintiff's claims for prospective injunctive and declaratory relief. In this regard, the Court stated:

 In order to establish an actual controversy in this case, Lyons would have had not only to allege that he would have another encounter with the police but also to make the incredible assertion either, (1) that all police officers in Los Angeles always choke any citizen with whom they happen to have an encounter, whether for the purpose of arrest, issuing a citation or for ...


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