Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, South Bend Division. No S-76-72 -- Allen Sharp, Judge.
Before Castle, Senior Circuit Judge, and Sprecher and Wood, Circuit Judges.
The major issue in this appeal is whether the district court abused its discretion in denying certification of a plaintiff class consisting of all learning disabled children in Indiana.
On May 18, 1976, the parents of two minor children residing and attending public elementary schools in LaPorte County, Indiana, brought a class action on behalf of all children attending public schools within Indiana who have specific learning disabilities and are not receiving adequate special education. The suit was filed under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 and the First, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, and seeks declaratory, injunctive and monetary relief. The complaint named thirty-six defendants, consisting of seven state educational agency members and twenty-nine LaPorte County officials or educational agency members. The complaint did not originally allege that the named defendants represented a defendant class.
On October 12, 1976, the complaint was amended to add a claim under the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401 to 1461, and to allege a defendant class, whose members were
the superintendent and school board members of each Indiana public school corporation which fails to identify all students who are neurological impaired/learning disabled and fails to provide access to a minimally adequate education suited to the needs of all such students.
First Amended Complaint, Record, Vol. I, Document No. 19.
Discovery revealed that the schools attended by both the named plaintiff minors, as well as several other LaPorte County schools, were members of the South LaPorte County Special Education Cooperative. Consequently, on March 25, 1977, a second amended complaint was filed, adding four additional defendants the South LaPorte County Special Education Cooperative and three members of the Cooperative's Advisory Committee. The amended complaint also added a claim under the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 701 to 794. See Second Amended Complaint, Record, Vol. I, Document No. 39.
On August 11, 1977, the plaintiffs moved the district court to determine and certify plaintiff and defendant classes as follows:
(1) plaintiff class composed of all children within the State of Indiana entitled to a public education who have learning disabilities who are not properly identified and/or who are not receiving such special instruction as to guarantee them of minimally adequate education; . . .
(2) defendant class composed of the superintendent and school board members of each Indiana public school corporation that fails to identify all students with learning disabilities and/or fails to provide access to a minimally adequate education suited to the needs of all such students.
Motion for Order Determining Plaintiff and Defendant Classes, Record, Vol. I, Document No. 41.
The named plaintiffs urged the district court that they could adequately represent the plaintiff class and that the LaPorte County defendants could represent the defendant class. The named defendants ...