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Coleman v. Wake County Board of Education

United States District Court, E.D. North Carolina, Western Division

March 21, 2019

ELENA COLEMAN, on behalf of minor child N.C., Plaintiff,



         This matter is before the court on a plethora of motions by pro se plaintiff, proceeding on behalf of her minor child, N.C., including: to amend Rule 26(a) disclosures (DE 57); for leave to amend (DE 58); to admit into evidence and file under seal deposition transcripts (DE 69); to file objections and corrections to the administrative record (DE 70); and to file under seal or in the alternative to file exhibits with redactions and index (DE 71). Also before the court is defendants' notice of corrections and objections to the administrative record (DE 67). Issues raised are ripe for ruling.


         After receiving leave to proceed in forma pauperis, plaintiff filed complaint July 10, 2017. Plaintiff's allegations finally were framed in second amended complaint filed March 30, 2018. Plaintiff alleges defendants violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., by failing to give N.C. a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”). Specifically, plaintiff alleges that defendants failed reasonably to calculate and implement plaintiff's individualized education program (“IEP”). She complains that procedures used in the state administrative hearing on N.C. 's claims were inadequate. Plaintiff seeks damages together with an order requiring defendants to provide compensatory education. Defendants deny any liability.

         Upon receipt of the parties' proposed case management plans, a case schedule was put into place July 2, 2018, providing for, among other things, filing of the administrative record by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (“NCDPI”). This aspect of the case has not gone smoothly. Record later deemed incomplete by the parties was filed September 19, 2018. More parts of the record followed on the docket November 6, 2018, raising issue as to necessity for sealing, addressed in this court's December 18, 2018, order. Issues remain concerning sufficiency of the record.[1]

         On November 21, 2018, plaintiff filed the instant motion for amendment of damages in her Rule 26(a) disclosures, to which no response has been made. Plaintiff also filed that same day her “motion to amend and supplemental pleadings to include IDEA claim, ” to which defendants responded in opposition December 12, 2018. Plaintiff's remaining three motions were filed around two months later, on January 18, 2019, responded to as a whole in defendants' February 8, 2019, brief. Plaintiff has not lost opportunity to reply to defendants' responsive arguments.


         Following address of issues raised by defendants concerning sufficiency of the record, the court takes up below plaintiff's motions.

         A. Defendants' Notice of Objections and Corrections to the Record (DE 67)

         As noted above, the parties agree that certain exhibits submitted by defendants should be received in evidence. (See Notice (DE 67); Motion (DE 70)). Defendants' exhibits attached to their notice of objections and corrections to the administrative record (DE 67-1) are received by the court as additional evidence. Petitioners' Exhibits 417, 418, 420, and 423 are also received by the court as additional evidence based on the court's discussion of Petitioners' Exhibit 418 above and no objection as to Petitioners' Exhibits 417, 420, and 423. (See DE 68).

         Finally, defendants notice veils motion to exclude Petitioners' Exhibit 247. (Administrative Record (DE 49-3) at 606-609). The exhibit contains minutes from the individualized education program team meeting on December 5, 2013. (Administrative Record (DE 49-3) at 606-609). Defendants argue that plaintiff did not offer Petitioners' Exhibit 247 as evidence at the hearing, and therefore it should be excluded. The verification of plaintiff's counsel at administrative hearing shows that Petitioners' Exhibit 247 was not filed as evidence. (See Administrative Record (DE 49-3) at 610-16). Plaintiff has offered no explanation as to why this record was not offered as evidence at the hearing. Therefore, the court excludes Petitioners' Exhibit 247 from the administrative record. Defendants' objections and corrections to the administrative record are sustained.

         B. Plaintiff's Supplementation of Rule 26(a) Disclosures (DE 57)

         “A party who has made a disclosure under Rule 26(a) . . . must supplement or correct its disclosure or response: . . . in a timely manner if the party learns that in some material respect the disclosure or response is incomplete or incorrect, and if the additional or corrective information has not otherwise been made known to the other parties during the discovery process or in writing.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(e)(1)(A).

         Here, plaintiff has made the corrective information in the motion known to defendants by filing and serving an amended calculation of damages.[2] Defendants did not file a response, and the court has no reason to deem disclosure untimely. Accordingly, plaintiff has fulfilled obligation to supplement disclosures under the ...

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