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William W. v. Board of Education of Moline School Dist. No. 40

January 18, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael M. Mihm United States District Judge


This matter is now before the Court on Cross Motions for Summary Judgment by Plaintiff and Defendant. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment [#10] is DENIED, and Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment [#12] is GRANTED.


The Court has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, as the claim asserted in the Complaint presents a federal question involving rights created by the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.


Lindsey W. is a 12-year-old girl in seventh grade at John Deere Middle School ("JDMS") in Moline, Illinois. Lindsey has asthma, GERDS, migraines, rhinitis, and lactose intolerance. As a result of these impairments, Lindsey is a student with a specific "Learning Disability and Other Health Impairment" and is therefore eligible for special education services. William W. and LaVerne W. are her parents.

On September 2, 2004, the School District requested a due process hearing, asking the Independent Hearing Officer ("IHO") to order Lindsey to submit to a medical examination by an unnamed physician. The School District then filed a Motion for Summary Disposition and requested that the IHO order Lindsey to be evaluated by the physician of the District's choice. The IHO denied the District's Motion for Summary Disposition, ruling that there was no evidence that the District ever presented to the parent a consent for evaluation that met the requirements of § 300.500 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Plaintiffs then filed a Motion to Dismiss the District's request for a hearing, and the District voluntarily withdrew its request on December 21, 2004. Lindsey's parents agreed to a review of records, and Lindsey did not undergo the medical examination sought by the District.

On October 27, 2004, while the District's request for a hearing was still pending, Plaintiffs requested a due process hearing regarding Lindsey's special education. In their request, the Plaintiffs alleged that the District had failed to identify her as eligible to receive services in speech-language and therefore failed to adequately address her language needs. On April 22, 2005, Plaintiffs and their attorney met with representatives and legal counsel from the District for an IEP meeting to review the evaluation tendered by Plaintiffs in support of their request. The District rewrote the language arts and math goals to allow for the measurement of her performance over the course of the school year and agreed to provide Lindsey with 60 minutes of direct speech therapy and 20 minutes of consultative services per week. The IHO found that the District had relied on the evaluation submitted by Plaintiffs and directed the District to reimburse Plaintiffs for the cost of the evaluation. The IHO also ordered that the IEP written on April 22, 2005, be implemented as Lindsey's eighth grade IEP. Plaintiffs contend that the District attempted to avoid the IHO's order by removing her from special education math and failing to have speech-language services available for Lindsey when school began in the fall.

On October 15, 2005, Plaintiffs brought this action seeking recovery of the attorney's fees that they expended during the underlying proceedings pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. Both parties have now filed cross motions for summary judgment which are fully briefed. This Order follows.


Summary judgment should be granted where "the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c). The moving party has the responsibility of informing the Court of portions of the record or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The moving party may meet its burden of showing an absence of disputed material facts by demonstrating "that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case." Id. at 325. Any doubt as to the existence of a genuine issue for trial is resolved against the moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Cain v. Lane, 857 F.2d 1139, 1142 (7th Cir. 1988).

If the moving party meets its burden, the non-moving party then has the burden of presenting specific facts to show that there is a genuine issue of material fact. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986). Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(e) requires the non-moving party to go beyond the pleadings and produce evidence of a genuine issue for trial. Celotex, 477 U.S. at 324. Nevertheless, this Court must "view the record and all inferences drawn from it in the light most favorable to the [non-moving party]." Holland v. Jefferson Nat. Life Ins. Co., 883 F.2d 1307, 1312 (7th Cir. 1989). Summary judgment will be denied where a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986); Hedberg v. Indiana Bell Tel. Co., 47 F.3d 928, 931 (7th Cir. 1995).


The IDEA requires states that accept federal funding for the education of disabled children to provide these children with a "free appropriate public education." 20 U.S.C. § 1415. Illinois accepts federal funding for this purpose. Casey K. ex rel. Norman K. v. St. Anne Community High School Dist., 400 F.3d 508, 509 (7th Cir. 2005). Under the IDEA, schools are required to have procedures in place that allow parents to make complaints regarding the identification, evaluation, placement, or provision of services to their child, and each student must be offered special education and related ...

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