United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Eastern Division
A.H., by and through his parent, H.C., and H.C., on behalf of herself, Plaintiffs,
CRAVEN COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, CARROLL G. IPOCK, II, Chair, KELLY L. FORMS, in her individual and professional capacity, FANNIE E. RIVERS, in her individual and professional capacity, Defendants.
TERRENCE W. BOYLE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on defendants' motions to
dismiss pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) of the Federal
Rules of Civil Procedure, [DE 16, 18], and plaintiffs'
motion for leave to file. [DE 25]. The matters have been
fully briefed and are ripe for ruling. For the reasons
discussed below, the motions to dismiss are granted and the
complaint is dismissed.
December 2, 2016, plaintiffs filed a complaint asserting
substantive and procedural violations of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C.
§ 1400 etseq., discrimination in violation of
Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act
("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12131 etseq.,
violations of A.H.'s Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment
rights under the United States Constitution, pursuant to 42
U.S.C. § 1983, violation of Section 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504"), 20
U.S.C. § 794, as well as state law tort claims of
battery and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional
distress. [DE 1].
March 16, 2017, defendants Craven County Board of Education
("Board") and Carrol Ipock filed a motion to
dismiss, arguing that the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the complaint and that the complaint fails
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. [DE 16].
On March 20, defendant Kelly Forbis also filed a motion to
dismiss which raised essentially the same arguments. [DE 18].
Plaintiffs responded, [DE 22, 23], and defendants Board and
Ipock filed a reply, [DE 26]. Plaintiffs also filed a motion
for leave to file an Order for Appointment of Guardian Ad
Litem from the Craven County Superior Court with their
response. [DE 25].
initial matter, and for good cause shown, the Court will
grant plaintiffs' motion for leave to file to Order for
Appointment of Guardian Ad Litem pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 17(a)(3) and Local Rule of Civil Procedure
Court next turns to defendants' motions to dismiss and
will first address the motions made under Rule 12(b)(1).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) authorizes dismissal
of a claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. When
subject matter jurisdiction is challenged, the plaintiff has
the burden of proving jurisdiction to survive the motion.
Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647-50 (4th
Cir. 1999). "In determining whether jurisdiction exists,
the district court is to regard the pleadings'
allegations as mere evidence on the issue, and may consider
evidence outside the pleadings without converting the
proceeding to one for summary judgment." Richmond,
Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States,
945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991). The movant's motion to
dismiss should be granted if the material jurisdictional
facts are not in dispute and the movant is entitled to
prevail as a matter of law. Id.
first argue that the Court lacks the subject matter
jurisdiction to adjudicate plaintiffs' claims under the
IDEA. The IDEA was enacted in part
to ensure that all children with disabilities have available
to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes
special education and related services designed to meet their
unique needs and prepare them for further education,
employment, and independent living.
20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). To further this end, IDEA
offers federal funds to states in exchange for a commitment
to furnish a "free appropriate public education"
("FAPE") to all children with certain physical or
intellectual disabilities. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(3)(A)(i). A
FAPE comprises "special education and related
services" and includes both "instruction"
tailored to meet a child's "unique needs" and
sufficient "supportive services" to permit the
child to benefit from that instruction. 20 U.S.C.
§§ 1401(9), (26), (29); see Board of Ed. of
Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist., Westchester
Cty. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 203 (1982). An eligible
child acquires a "substantive right" to such an
education once a state accepts the IDEA'S financial
assistance. Smith v. Robinson, 468 U.S. 992, 1010
the IDEA, an individualized education program
("IEP"), serves as the "primary vehicle"
for providing each child with the promised FAPE. Honig v.
Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311 (1988); 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d).
An IEP is crafted by the child's school officials,
teachers, and parents and spells out a personalized plan to
meet all of the child's "educational needs." 20
U.S.C. §§ 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(II)(bb), (d)(1)(B). The
IDEA establishes that any disputes involving the FAPE or IEP
are to be resolved through state administrative procedures.
20 U.S.C. § 1415.
person wishing to file suit under the IDEA in North Carolina
must first file a petition with the Office of Administrative
Hearings ("OAH"). See E.L. ex rel. G.L. v.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro Bd. of Educ, 975 F.Supp.2d 528, 532
(M.D. N.C. 2013) (citing N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-109.6).
A person may then appeal the decision at the OAH level to the
State Board of Education which, "through its Exceptional
Children Division, appoints an SRO [State Review Officer] to
review the ALJ's [Administrative Law Judge's]
findings appealed and issue an independent decision."
Id. Following a decision by the SRO, a person has
ninety days within which to file suit in federal court. 20
U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(B).
district court's jurisdiction under the IDEA is limited
to review of the final 'findings and decision' of the
administrative proceedings." 20 U.S.C. §
1415(i)(2)(a). Therefore, prior to filing an action in United
States District Court for claims under the IDEA, a parent
must exhaust her administrative remedies. E.L. ex rel.
Lorsson v. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Bd. of Educ, 113 F.3d
509, 514 (4th Cir. 2014). "The IDEA'S exhaustion
requirement serves the important purpose of allowing states
to use their special expertise to resolve educational
disputes, " id., and a plaintiffs failure to
exhaust administrative remedies deprives the federal ...