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M.G. v. New York City Dep't of Educ.

United States District Court, S.D. New York

January 21, 2014

M.G. and V.M. on behalf of themselves individually and their son, Y.T.; M.W. on behalf of herself individually and her son, E.H.; A.D. on behalf of herself individually and her son, D.D., Plaintiffs,
v.
NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION; NEW YORK CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION; DENNIS WALCOTT, [1] in his official capacity as Chancellor of the New York City School District, Defendants

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For Plaintiffs: Elisa F. Hyman, Esq., Friedman & Moses LLP, New York, NY.

For Defendants: Andrew James Rauchberg, Assistant Corporation Counsel, New York City Law Department, New York, NY.

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OPINION AND ORDER

Shira A. Scheindlin, U.S.D.J.

I. INTRODUCTION

The parents of three autistic children bring this action against the New York City Department of Education and other defendants (" the City" ), alleging a failure to provide adequate special education services to their children in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (" Section 504" ), 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the New York State Constitution, and several New York State education laws and regulations. Plaintiffs also allege that the City employs unlawful policies and practices regarding the provision of services to autistic children on a systemic basis.

On July 9, 2013, Y.T. and his parents, M.G. and V.M. (" the Y.T. plaintiffs" ) sought a preliminary injunction to compel the City to provide certain services to Y.T. during the pendency of his administrative proceedings. On August 1, 2013, I granted plaintiffs' motion with respect to the 1:1 applied behavioral analysis (" ABA" ) home services, which I concluded were part of Y.T.'s then-current educational placement. As such, the ABA services constituted pendency services exempt from administrative exhaustion.[2] However, I denied the remaining relief requested because plaintiffs had not established that their failure to exhaust administrative remedies should be excused. Therefore, I lacked jurisdiction to consider plaintiffs' request for services beyond Y.T.'s then-current educational placement.[3]

On July 25, 2013, plaintiffs amended their complaint to add E.H. and his mother M.W. (" the E.H. plaintiffs" ), and D.D. and his mother A.D. (" the D.D. plaintiffs" ). Although the City did not contest the pendency services requested by the E.H. and D.D. plaintiffs, the hearing officer assigned to their cases refused to sign the requested pendency orders.[4] On July 29, 2013, I endorsed a pendency order enumerating services to be provided to E.H. and D.D. during the course of their administrative proceedings.

The City now moves to dismiss the First Amended Complaint (" FAC" ) on the grounds that plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their administrative remedies in accordance with the IDEA and cannot demonstrate that exhaustion should be excused. The City also moves to dismiss the claims implicating state administrative procedures unless New York State is joined as a necessary party under Rule 19 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Finally, the City moves to dismiss Y.T.'s claims from the 2008-2009, 2009-2010, and 2010-2011 school years as time-barred under the IDEA's statute of limitations. For the reasons that follow, the City's motion is granted in part and denied in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The IDEA

The IDEA requires participating states to provide disabled children with a

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free and appropriate public education (" FAPE" ) through an Individualized Education Program (" IEP" ) to be revised at least once a year.[5] The IDEA also grants parents certain procedural rights, including the right to an impartial due process hearing regarding their child's placement and services.[6] In New York, an Impartial Hearing Officer (" IHO" ) from the local educational agency conducts the initial due process hearing and issues written findings.[7] The IHO's decision may then be appealed to the New York State Education Department's (" NYSED's" ) Office of State Review, where a State Review Officer (" SRO" ) will examine the record and issue an " independent decision." [8] After exhausting the two-tiered administrative review process, an aggrieved party may then seek judicial review in federal or state court.[9]

B. Summary of Administrative ...


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