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BUTLER v. SOUTH GLENS FALLS CENT. SCHOOL DIST.

July 27, 2000

DARYL BUTLER, PLAINTIFF,
V.
SOUTH GLENS FALLS CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; WILLIAM ELDER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS PRESIDENT OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE SOUTH GLENS FALLS CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT; JAMES P. MCCARTHY, INDIVIDUALLY, AS SUPERINTENDENT OF THE DISTRICT AND AS 504 COMPLIANCE OFFICER; RICHARD LAMARCHE, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL VICE PRINCIPAL, AND COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION CHAIRPERSON; JOANN CHAMBERS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SCHOOL DISTRICT PSYCHOLOGIST AND CSE MEMBER; CLARENCE PELKIE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS PAST DISTRICT HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL; PHYLLIS CORCORAN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SCHOOL HEALTH AIDE; PATRICIA THOMAS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS VICE PRINCIPAL AND DIRECTOR OF PUPIL SERVICES; BARBARA BAKER, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SCHOOL NURSE, AND COMMITTEE ON SPECIAL EDUCATION CHAIRPERSON; JON LARSON, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGIST AND CSE MEMBER; ROBERT EVANS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS SCHOOL PHYSICIAN, AND CSE MEMBER; H. WHITNEY BUTTERFIELD, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS CSE MEMBER; GEORGE AMEDORE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT AND 504 COMPLIANCE OFFICER; STEVEN BLACK, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL AND 504 COMPLIANCE OFFICER; ANTOINETTE CORNUTE, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS HIGH SCHOOL GUIDANCE COUNSELOR; JANIE CORNELL, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT, AND COORDINATOR OF PUPIL SERVICES; SHEILA ITZO, CSE MEMBER AND SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER; ANN EIKEN, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS HIGH SCHOOL NURSE; AND BEVERLY PETTEYS, INDIVIDUALLY, AND AS TUTOR, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Hurd, District Judge.

  MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Daryl Butler ("Butler" or "Plaintiff") commenced the instant action pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400-1487; § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101-12213 ; and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act ("FERPA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, claiming that the defendants failed to provide him with an appropriate public education and discriminated against him based upon his disability. The plaintiff has also asserted various state law claims. Butler seeks an award of compensatory education, reimbursement for tuition and related services, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

The defendants have moved for summary judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 56.*fn1 Oral argument was heard on February 18, 2000, in Albany, New York. Decision was reserved.

II. FACTS

Butler entered South Glens Falls Junior High School in 1990. Prior to enrolling in the South Glens Falls Central School District ("District"), he attended Lake George School District, where he was classified as a special education/emotionally disturbed student and an individualized education program ("IEP") was developed for him. This IEP was maintained upon entering South Glens Falls Junior High School.

In January 1991, Butler was declassified and no longer received special education services. He continued to have behavior and attendance problems and failed several courses. In June 1993, plaintiff was evaluated for possible learning disabilities. He tested in the average IQ range, but was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In September 1993, he stopped attending high school after a dispute with the school principal regarding parking privileges and the school nurse about taking his medication.

Plaintiff was classified as having multiple disabilities by the Committee on Special Education ("CSE") in February 1994 and a B.O.C.E.S. day treatment was recommended. However, his mother, Linda Butler Askew ("Mrs.Askew") rejected the program as inappropriate for her son. Mrs. Askew also rejected a home tutoring program. She then requested a hearing.

On January 9, 1995, the hearing officer determined that it was error to declassify Butler in 1991 because the evidence "clearly shows Daryl as a child with behavioral control and educational problems that had been evident and observable for several years. . . ." (Baker Aff. Ex. 1.) The hearing officer also noted that after he was declassified, the District made no attempt to provide him with regular counseling and the counselor assigned to him never met with him. The hearing officer further found that the IEP developed in June 1994 contained several inadequacies. He recommended classifying plaintiff as "Other Health Impaired," Id., and develop an IEP which includes tutoring and counseling. Neither plaintiff nor his mother appealed this determination.

The CSE met in May 1995 to develop another IEP. At this time, it recommended home tutoring for the summer to allow Butler to adjust to the academic setting for the fall. Butler's mother would not consent to this IEP. Nor would she consent to two other IEP's which the District developed in November 1995 and June 1996. Instead, she enrolled plaintiff in a home school program through the Clonlara School ("Clonlara"). The district requested a hearing regarding her course of action.

On February 27, 1997, the hearing officer determined that, after the first hearing determination, the District attempted to provide Butler with an appropriate education and developed IEP's in May 1995, November 1995, and June 1996 which were appropriate for Butler's educational needs. The hearing officer denied Mrs. Askew's demand for tuition reimbursement because she did not show that Clonlara was an adequate and appropriate school. The District was directed to implement its June 1996 IEP and provide Butler with home tutoring until he obtained a GED or for 18 months, whichever was sooner. Mrs. Askew appealed this decision to the State Reviewing Officer ("SRO").

On November 4, 1997, the SRO found that the 1995-1996 and 1996-1997 IEP's were inappropriate, however, affirmed the decision not to award tuition reimbursement or reimbursement for related services and materials. Plaintiff then commenced this action.

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, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (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, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (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, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (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, 106 S.Ct. 1348. 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. 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, 106 S.Ct. 2505; Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co., 475 U.S. at 587, 106 S.Ct. 1348. 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. Statute of Limitations

The defendants argue that plaintiff's IDEA claims are barred by the statute of limitations. Since IDEA does not provide for a statute of limitations, federal courts must apply the statute of limitations applicable to the most analogous state cause of action. See Wilson v. Garcia, 471 U.S. 261, 105 S.Ct. 1938, 85 L.Ed.2d 254 (1985). The Second Circuit has determined that an action under § 1415 of the IDEA appealing an administrative proceeding is analogous to an Article 78 proceeding and therefore, the four month statute of limitations applicable to Article 78 proceedings*fn2 applies to such actions. See Adler v. Education Dep't of New York, 760 F.2d 454, 457 (2d Cir. 1985); see also Heldman v. Sobol, 962 F.2d 148, 158 n. 10 (2d Cir. 1992) (holding that the four month statute of limitations applies if the complaint "constituted an appeal from the Commissioner's decision"). However, a three year ...


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