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Loch v. Board of Education of Edwardsville Community School Dist. #7

May 18, 2007


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Reagan, District Judge


Defendant, Board of Education of Edwardsville Community Unit School District No. 7 ("District"), moves the Court, pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, to dismiss a portion of Counts I, V and VII, and all of Counts II, III, IV, VI, VII, IX and X of the Amended Complaint (Doc. 48).*fn1

This case presents a host of claims and issues concerning the education of Plaintiff Kayla Loch ("Kayla"), who is now an adult.*fn2 At the core of this action are claims arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq., although Plaintiffs have also brought claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12101, et seq., Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ("Section 504"), 29 U.S.C. §§ 794 et seq., the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987 ("CRRA"), Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d, et seq., and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.

Kayla alleges that the District, inter alia, failed to evaluate her in a timely manner, refused to honor dual credit courses and discriminated against Kayla on the basis of sex. Plaintiffs, Thomas and Glenna Loch ("Thomas and Glenna"), Kayla's parents, allege that the District violated the procedural requirements of the IDEA, retaliated and discriminated against them for having filed a complaint with the Human Rights Authority; and deprived Kayla of a free appropriate public education ("FAPE").

I. Background

At the time that Plaintiffs filed their amended complaint, Kayla was an eighteen-year old student who attended Edwardsville Community Unit School District No. 7. Kayla was ten when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and fourteen when she was diagnosed with emotional disabilities. After Kayla was diagnosed with diabetes, the school district developed a plan for accommodating her disability under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (commonly known as a "504 plan"). Although Kayla began to miss school regularly, she maintained good grades, and teachers continued to rate her social development well. Her attendance record eroded further in eighth and ninth grades and the first semester of tenth grade, but she still kept up with her work and performed well.

Plaintiffs allege that, beginning with her freshman year at Edwardsville High School ("EHS"), school staff failed to follow the 504 Plan written for Kayla and did not conduct meetings with her instructors to cover her 504 Plan formally. As a result, EHS staff and instructors did not accommodate her, as noted in her 504 Plan, such as not allowing her to receive full credit for late or make-up work. As a result of the difficulties Kayla had with her 504 Plan, Thomas and Glenna filed a complaint with the Human Rights Authority of the Illinois Guardianship and Advocacy Commission ("HRA"). The HRA concluded that EHS violated Kayla's rights in the fall of 2002 when it failed to follow appropriate procedures.

In March, 2004, during the second semester of her sophomore year, Kayla stopped attending classes at EHS and began to attend Lewis and Clark Community College ("LCCC"). Plaintiffs claim that they took this step because of EHS's failure to accommodate her disability. EHS was not aware of the reason Kayla stopped attending or completing her work; she failed most of her classes that semester, and her enrollment was eventually dropped.

In July, 2004, Plaintiffs met with the principal of EHS and presented a proposed plan for Kayla's schooling in the next academic year. The proposal specified that Kayla was to remain registered at EHS but would take all of her classes at LCCC, for which she would receive credit toward graduation from EHS. The principal stated that school board guidelines did not allow such an arrangement but that he and the assistant superintendent for curriculum would work with Plaintiffs to devise an appropriate plan for Kayla's continued education at EHS. Shortly thereafter, Thomas requested an evaluation under the IDEA to determine whether Kayla was eligible for special education. School officials conducted a series of tests, including the typical battery of tests for evaluating adolescent function and environmental adjustment. They also met with Kayla's therapist, psychiatrist and pediatric endocrinologist. Later, the testing team and school administrators met with Thomas and Glenna to discuss the results. Kayla's intellectual and psychological functioning were well within the normal category, but on her Behavior Rating Scale, the "School Maladjustment" domain categorized her as "at risk." The meeting also dealt with Kayla's conflicts with her teachers over her diabetes accommodations and her social conflicts with other students. The meeting resulted in a finding that Kayla was not in need of special education services.

Thomas disagreed with the finding, asked for a Section 504 meeting, and reiterated his request that Kayla receive EHS credit for taking LCCC classes. This request was again denied, and Plaintiffs were told that a Section 504 meeting could be scheduled when Kayla re-enrolled at EHS. After their requests were denied, Plaintiffs submitted a request for a due process hearing. The hearing did not result in a change in Kayla's status or her eligibility for special education. Plaintiffs could not obtain the accommodations that they sought, and this lawsuit followed.

II. Applicable Legal Standard

The District moves for dismissal pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which governs dismissal for failure to state a claim. In assessing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court must take as true all factual allegations and construe in plaintiff's favor all reasonable inferences. Massey v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc., 464 F.3d 642, 656 (7th Cir. 2006); Albany Bank & Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971 (7th Cir. 2002).

A complaint should be dismissed only "if there is no set of facts, even hypothesized, that could entitle a plaintiff to relief." Massey, 464 F.3d at 656. As the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit explained:

"We construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, taking as true all well-pleaded factual allegations and making all possible inferences from those allegations in his or her favor." Barnes v. Briley, 420 F.3d 673, 677 (7th Cir. 2005)....

Dismissal is proper "only if it 'appears beyond doubt that the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim which ...

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