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MASON v. SCHENECTADY CITY SCH. DIST.

September 21, 1993

LUKE MASON, by and through SANDRA MASON, Plaintiff, against SCHENECTADY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, JOSEPH GIAMBO, Director, Pupil Services and Special Education, in his Individually and Official Capacities and DR. STEVEN BENSON, Chairperson, Secondary Special Education, in his Individual and Official Capacities, Defendants.

CON. G. CHOLAKIS, JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT


The opinion of the court was delivered by: CON. G. CHOLAKIS

Luke Mason, a developmentally disabled seventeen year old resident of the Schenectady City School District (the School District), complains about the School District's failure to provide free appropriate public education tailored to his specific needs, as various state and federal laws require.

 By and through his mother, he sues the School District, Joseph Giambo (its director of Pupil Services and Special Education), and Dr. Steven Benson (Chairperson the School District'S Secondary Special Education), alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. § 1401 et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794, the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., the due process and equal protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, and several provisions of New York's Education Law. N.Y. Educ. Law § 4401 et seq. He sues the individual defendants both in their individual and official capacities.

 Defendants now move for summary judgment; plaintiffs oppose the motion on the ground that they need further discovery or, in the alternative, on the ground that defendants are not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The Court rejects the discovery argument because, as Magistrate Judge Hurd has found, the discovery deadline has passed without a satisfactory explanation for the plaintiffs' untimely discovery requests. Moreover, further discovery is not necessary to decide this motion for summary judgment. As Magistrate Judge Hurd acknowledged in his letter to the parties, he and the parties may revisit the question of discovery after the Court renders its decision on the present motion.

 Background

 Early in Luke's life, health specialists at the Eleanor Roosevelt Developmental Services (ERDS) diagnosed him has having "Minimal Brain Dysfunction." As a result of this diagnosis, he enrolled in the Early Childhood Program at ERDS when he was two years of age.

 Between the ages of three and eleven, Luke was enrolled in the day treatment program at another facility, St. Catherine's Center for Children in Albany, New York. *fn1" At age eleven, St. Catherine's discharged Luke and the School District placed him at the Wildwood School, another facility for children with assorted disabilities.

 Thereafter, Luke began exhibiting increasingly aggressive behavior. The complaint reveals an unhappy history in which Luke was referred in and out of various social service agencies and programs, including the Wildwood School, the Capital District Psychiatric Center (CDPC), the Schenectady County Family Court, the Tryon Detention Center of the Division for Youth, the Parsons day treatment program, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), and the School District's Steinmetz Academic Adjustment Program.

 The gist of the complaint is that the School District failed to find an appropriate placement for Luke, given his disabilities, and failed to advise Luke and his mother of their rights to challenge the placements and programs that the School District's CSE prescribed for him. These placements included a program at Wildwood School, home tutoring, and attempts at placing Luke with BOCES, Parsons, and Steinmetz programs. *fn2"

 Luke was in and out of the CDPC Inpatient programs, and he spent some time in the custody of the Division for Youth at its Tryon Detention Facility. It appears that the Schenectady County Family Court committed him to the custody of the Division for Youth, which placed him in the Tryon Detention Facility where he remained from November 2, 1998 at least until October, 1989. See Complaint at PP 27-33.

 Because of Luke's aggressive behavior, his mother petitioned the Schenectady County Family Court to designate Luke as a "person in need of supervision" or "PINS." The Family Court admitted Luke to the CDPC for evaluation and the CDPC recommended that Luke be placed again in the custody of the Division for Youth. Luke again found himself in the custody of the Division, this time until April, 1992 when (at 16 years of age) he was remanded to his mother's custody, returning to the School District on May 1, 1992.

 The School District's CSE held a meeting on May 7, 1992 to discuss Luke's options for educational placement. Luke's mother, an attorney from Disability Advocates, Inc., defendant Steven Benson, another School District administrator, and Luke's caseworker attended the meeting. Luke joined them toward the end of the meeting. Plaintiffs complain that the defendants were ill-prepared for this meeting, having "little to offer in the way of programs or services" for Luke. According to the complaint, "the meeting ended with a renewed request by plaintiff's attorney for an evaluation as the first step towards determining a proper educational placement for Luke." Complaint at PP 49-53.

 Apparently on June 2, 1992, plaintiff's counsel requested an impartial hearing with respect to Luke's educational prospects. By letter dated June 10, 1992, defendant Joseph A. Giambo denied the request for a hearing as "premature" because the CSE had not made a formal recommendation for Luke's placement. See Letter from Joseph A. Giambo to Cailie Currin, Esq. dated June 10, 1992 (attached to Complaint as Exh. A). According to Mr. Giambo's letter, the CSE was awaiting Luke's and his mother's response to placement in some program that the parties discussed at the May 7, 1992 meeting. In effect, Mr. Giambo reported that the CSE was awaiting word from the Masons before making a recommendation. Mr. Giambo advised the Masons that they would be free to seek review of that recommendation, if they found it unacceptable.

 As a result of the foregoing, Luke and his mother filed the complaint in this action on August 19, 1992, alleging that the defendants:

 
(1) failed to provide adequate individualized programs and services, and failed to observe the procedural protections that the IDEA requires;
 
(2) discriminated against Luke on the basis of his disability in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq.;
 
(3) discriminated against Luke on the basis of his disability in violation of the Rehabilitation Act ...

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