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Special Education

IDEIA Statute of Limitations -Can it really be 2+2?

G.L. v. Ligonier Valley School District, No. 13 cv 66, Mem. Op. Judge Mark Hornak, December 30, 2013, (W.D. Pa.)

In a case argued before Judge Hornak in the Western District of Pennsylvania, the Court ruled that the statutory construction of IDEIA provides for two separate filing periods and adopted the 2+2 accrual analysis which had been repeatedly rejected by Pennsylvania Special Education Hearing Officers.  The Court’s analysis held that Section 1415(f)(3)(C) and 1415(b)(6)(B), read separately, create two distinct time limitations.  Section 1415 (f)(3)(C) requires parents to request a due process  hearing within two years of the “knew or should have known” date while Section 1415(b)(6)(B) permits parents to bring allegations of violations occurring more than two years before the “knew or should have known date.”  This extension of the filing deadline is known as the “2+2” analysis- creating the scope of IDEA due process claims to a total of four years. 

The School District has filed a Petition for Permission to Appeal to the Third Circuit.  The question presented for review is:  Whether, under the relevant provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1415(f)(3)(C) and 1415(b)(6)(B), and the relevant implementing regulations, 34 C.F.R. §§300.511(e) and 300.507(a)(2), the parents or local education agency filing a request for an impartial due process hearing pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(1)(A) may, in their complaint, allege statutory violations occurring up to two years before the date the parent or agency knew or should have known about the alleged action that forms the basis of the complaint, or may only allege statutory violations occurring within two years prior to the date of the filing of the due process request?  Andrews & Price is handling the defense of this case. 

 On February 10, 2014, the Court of Appeals notified the parties that it granted the District’s Permission to Appeal.


Class Action Lawsuit Dismissed For Failure To Exhaust

Class action plaintiffs attempting to avoid the jurisdictional requirement of exhaustion of administrative remedies must do something more than allege conclusory allegations of “systemic” or “sytem-wide” relief.

It is a “long-settled rule of judicial administration that no one is entitled to judicial relief for a supposed or threatened injury until the prescribed administrative remedy has been exhausted.” PennMont Securities v. Frucher, 586 F.3d 242, 245 (3d Cir. 2009).

Andrews & Price attorneys successfully defended a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of an alleged class of autistic children in a local school district. The class action complaint alleged that members of the class had been denied a free appropriate public education (FAPE) because of an alleged practice of the school district to misrepresent student progress favorably. The plaintiffs argued that they were excused from exhaustion (due process) because they alleged claims on behalf of a class and that the alleged denial of FAPE was “system wide”. In its Motion to Dismiss the District argued the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction as plaintiffs had failed to exhaust. The District Court agreed and dismissed the matter for failure to exhaust.

The plaintiffs could not overcome their burden to prove that their claims were properly before the court simply by using phrases such as “systemic” and “system-wide”. Conclusory allegations of systemic deficiencies are not enough to withstand a jurisdictional challenge.

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