Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida. (No. 94-10164-MMP). Maurice Mitchell Paul, Chief Judge.
Before Tjoflat, Chief Judge, and Dubina and Black, Circuit Judges.
We affirm the judgment of the district court for the reasons stated in the district court's dispositive order of July 20, 1995, which appears in the Appendix.
This cause comes before the Court upon motion to dismiss plaintiff's first amended complaint by defendants Alachua County School Board and Columbia County School Board (doc. 6). For the reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED.
Plaintiff N.B. is a hearing impaired child. During the relevant time periods, N.B. lived in either Columbia or Suwannee County, Florida. Sometime prior to March 1986, N.B. was bused from her home in Columbia or Suwannee County to attend a special school for hearing impaired children in Alachua County. Plaintiff claims that this decision caused her to be segregated from hearing students. She also claims that the long bus ride caused her to miss a significant portion of class work each school day. N.B. left the State of Florida at the end of the 1992/93 school year and is no longer in the Florida educational system.
N.B. has brought this suit alleging violations of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. She seeks compensatory damages under the IDEA (Count I) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count II).
In the motion to dismiss, defendants move for dismissal of the first amended complaint based on the following four grounds: 1) the plaintiff has failed to exhaust administrative remedies; 2) the plaintiff's claims are barred by the statute of limitations; 3) compensatory damages are not available under the IDEA; and 4) compensatory damages are not available under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the IDEA. Because the Court finds dismissal is appropriate for plaintiff's failure to exhaust necessary administrative remedies as a prerequisite to filing this action, the Court need not reach the remaining three issues concerning the statute of limitations and the availability of compensatory damages under the IDEA and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
The IDEA, formerly known as the Education for All Handicapped Act ("EHA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., provides federal money to state and local education agencies in order to assist them in educating handicapped children, on the condition that the states and local agencies implement the substantive and procedural requirements of the Act. The principal purpose of the Act is "to assure that all children with disabilities have available to them ... a free appropriate public education which emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet the handicapped child's unique needs... [and to ensure] that the rights of handicapped children and their parents or guardians are protected." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(c).
To carry out these objectives, the IDEA provides procedural safeguards to permit parental involvement in all matters concerning the child's educational program and allows parents to obtain administrative and judicial review of decisions they deem unsatisfactory or inappropriate. Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311-12, 108 S. Ct. 592, 597-98, 98 L. Ed. 2d 686 (1988). Under this scheme of procedural protections, parents are entitled to 1) examination of all relevant records pertaining to evaluation and educational placement of their child, 2) prior written notice whenever the responsible educational agency proposes, or refuses, to change the child's placement, 3) an opportunity to present complaints concerning any aspect of the local ...