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RABIDEAU v. BEEKMANTOWN CEN. SCHOOL DIST.

March 23, 2000

WAYNE RABIDEAU, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENT AND LEGAL GUARDIAN OF ALYSSA RABIDEAU, AND JOANN RABIDEAU, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS PARENT AND LEGAL GUARDIAN OF ALYSSA RABIDEAU, PLAINTIFFS,
V.
BEEKMANTOWN CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: David N. Hurd, United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 21, 1998, plaintiffs commenced the instant action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of their rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400-1485. Plaintiffs also assert state law causes of action for negligence, respondent superior, recklessness, and battery. The defendant moved for partial summary judgment, seeking dismissal of plaintiffs' federal claims.*fn1 Plaintiffs opposed. Oral argument was heard on December 17, 1999 in Utica, New York. Decision was reserved. Supplemental briefs and affidavits were requested to address the issue of IDEA's requirement that administrative remedies be exhausted before a civil action may be filed. Plaintiffs filed supplemental papers on February 18, 2000; the defendant's supplemental papers were filed on February 22, 2000.

II. FACTS

Alyssa Rabideau ("Alyssa") is a nine-year old student at Cumberland Head Elementary School, located within the defendant Beekmantown Central School District ("District" or "defendant"). Alyssa was born with congenital hydrocephalus (water on the brain). Secondary effects of this condition include seizures, for which Alyssa is administered medication three times per day. Her second dosage is administered by the school nurse. On September 16, 1997, a substitute nurse gave Alyssa an overdose of her medication which caused Alyssa various physical injuries. On October 16, 1997, Alyssa's parents filed a notice of claim against the District, pursuant to N.Y. Gen. Mun. Law §§ 50-e and 50-i and N.Y. Educ. Law § 3813. This is one of the bases for plaintiffs' state law causes of action. This motion involves subsequent events occurring at the school which form the bases for plaintiffs' federal causes of action.

In the beginning of the 1997-1998 school year, the Cumberland Head Elementary School nurse, Jody Branch, sent a notice to all parents of children in the first grade that the school would be conducting physicals of all first grade students on October 15, 1997. If the parent did not want the physical performed, they were to complete a form informing the school of when and by whom their child would receive a physical. Alyssa's mother, plaintiff Joann Rabideau ("Mrs. Rabideau"), completed the form, indicating that Alyssa's pediatrician would perform her physical. The plaintiffs contend that, on October 15, 1997, a school physical was performed on Alyssa anyway. The District asserts that Alyssa came to the nurse's office on October 15, 1997, complaining of ear pain and the doctor merely looked at her ear, but did not perform a physical.

In September of 1998, pursuant to Alyssa's Individualized Education Program ("IEP"), Alyssa began the school year attending Susan Beebie's ("Mrs. Beebie") regular second grade class. Alyssa was also to receive 180 minutes of special education with Leslie LaValley ("Mrs. LaValley"). However, due to the extensive amount of time Alyssa was spending in her special education class, Alyssa was transferred to Mrs. LaValley's class full-time, but she continued to attend certain regular classes with Mrs. Beebie. Mrs. LaValley maintained a student journal on Alyssa to record her behavior during the day. Plaintiffs contend that transferring Alyssa without their consent and without altering or amending Alyssa's IEP violates IDEA.

In late September and early October of 1998, Alyssa refused to stand for or recite the Pledge of Allegiance or participate in other aspects of the morning routine. Plaintiffs claim that Alyssa was scolded in front of the other students, was removed from class, and, on one occasion, was taken to the principal's office, solely for her failure to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. In addition, plaintiffs allege, Alyssa was removed from recess, art, and music, and separated from her classmates during class and at lunch to punish her for her failure to participate in the Pledge of Allegiance. The District denies these allegations.

III. DISCUSSION

A. Summary Judgment Standard

Summary judgment must be granted when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, and affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the moving party is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby. Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 247 (1986); Lang v. Retirement Living Pub. Co., 949 F.2d 576, 580 (2d Cir. 1991). The moving party carries the initial burden of demonstrating an absence of a genuine issue of material fact. Fed. R. Civ. P. 56; Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986); Thompson v. Gjivoje, 896 F.2d 716, 720 (2d Cir. 1990). Facts, inferences therefrom, and ambiguities must be viewed in a light most favorable to the nonmovant. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986); Project Release v. Prevost, 722 F.2d 960, 968 (2d Cir. 1983).

When the moving party has met the burden, the non-moving party "must do more than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts." Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 586. At that point, the non-moving party "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56: Liberty Lobby Inc., 477 U.S. at 250; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. To withstand a summary judgment motion, evidence must exist upon which a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmovant. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. at 248-49; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587. Thus, summary judgment is proper where there is "little or no evidence . . . in support of the non-moving party's case." Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22 F.3d 1219, 1223-24 (2d Cir. 1994) (citations omitted).

B. Fourteenth Amendment Claim

1. Unauthorized Physical Examination

The defendant claims that Alyssa was never subjected to an unauthorized physical examination and, therefore, there was no violation of her Fourteenth Amendment right to bodily integrity. The plaintiffs, however, assert that, when viewed in a light most favorable to them, it is reasonable to infer that Alyssa was subjected to a physical examination without her parents' consent. There is a genuine issue of material fact exists with respect to this issue. However, ...


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