United States District Court, S.D. Illinois
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE VANDALIA COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 203, Plaintiff
K.S., LISA ARENAS, PHILIP MILSK, Independent Hearing Officer, and ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER.
J. ROSENSTENGEL United States District Judge.
case comes before the Court on a Motion to Dismiss pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) filed by
Defendant K.S. and Defendant Lisa Arenas
(“Defendants”) (Docs. 15, 16). Plaintiff Board of
Education of the Vandalia Community Unit School District No.
203 (the “District”) brings suit pursuant to the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §
§ 1400-1482 (“IDEA”), to appeal an
administrative ruling rendered by Independent Hearing Officer
Philip C. Milsk (“IHO Milsk”). Specifically, the
District filed suit under § 1415(i)(2) of the IDEA,
which grants the right to bring a federal civil action to
certain parties claiming to have been aggrieved by the
findings and decision made by an independent hearing officer.
For the reasons set forth below, the Court grants
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss (Docs. 15, 16).
& Procedural Background
a student with an emotional disturbance disability who
received special education and related services from the
District under the IDEA (Doc. 1, p. 2, 6). In October 2014,
the fall semester of K.S.'s senior year of high school at
Vandalia Community High School (“VCHS”), K.S.
came to school under the influence of marijuana after smoking
in his basement with friends before school (Id. at
October 10, 2014, K.S.'s parent, teachers and other
school personnel participated in a manifestation
determination review meeting, where all parties agreed that
his drug use was not a manifestation of his disabilities and
that his behavior was not because of a failure to implement
his individualized education program (“IEP”)
(Id. at 1, 5). In accordance with school policy, the
School Board of Vandalia CUSD No. 203 voted to expel K.S.
from VCHS, but arranged for him to receive services at a
private day school, Cornerstone Academy (Id. at 6).
K.S.'s mother, Lisa Arenas, requested a special education
due process hearing to contest the expulsion (Id. at
process hearing was held over four days in April and May 2015
(Id. at 2). On May 14, 2015, IHO Milsk issued his
Final Decision and Order finding in favor of the student on
many of the charges and finding that the District failed to
follow certain IDEA procedures and denied a free, appropriate
public education (“FAPE”) to K.S. (Id.
at 10). Both the School Board of Vandalia CUSD No. 203 and
K.S.'s parent subsequently requested a clarification of
IHO Milsk's Final Decision and Order (Id.). IHO
Milsk then issued a Clarification of the Final Decision and
September 22, 2015, the District filed its complaint
appealing the decision pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §
1415(i)(2)-(3) and asserting that the District has complied
with its obligations under the IDEA (Id. at 11). The
Court conducted a preliminary review of the complaint and
determined that it has jurisdiction over this matter pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)-(3).
February 12, 2016, Defendants moved to dismiss the
District's complaint based on the statute of limitations
(Doc. 15, 16). On March 17, 2016, the District filed a
response brief (Doc. 23). On March 31, 2016, Defendants filed
a reply brief (Doc. 24). The reply brief properly set forth
exceptional circumstances that justify the filing of a reply
brief in accordance with Local Rule 7.1(c). Accordingly,
Defendants' reply brief will be considered by the Court.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, the Court must construe the
allegations of the complaint in the light most favorable to
the plaintiff and accept as true all well-pleaded facts and
allegations in the complaint. Appert v. Morgan Stanley
Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 622 (7th Cir. 2012).
“[A] complaint attacked by a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss does not need detailed factual allegations, ”
but must contain “enough facts to state a claim for
relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555, 570
(2007). Allegations in a complaint must “allow the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009).
defendant may raise the statute of limitations in a motion to
dismiss “if the allegations of the complaint itself set
forth everything necessary to satisfy the affirmative
defense.” Brooks v. Ross, 578 F.3d 574, 579
(7th Cir. 2009). In reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the
Court is limited to the allegations contained in the
pleadings themselves. Documents attached to the pleadings as
exhibits are considered part of the pleadings for all
purposes. Fed.R.Civ.P. 10(c). Additionally, documents that
are referred to in the complaint and are central to the claim
may be considered on a motion to dismiss. See Albany Bank
& Trust Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., 310 F.3d 969, 971
(7th Cir. 2002).
argue that this action is untimely because it was not filed
within the 120-day statute of limitations pursuant to 105
ILCS 5/14-8.02a(i). The District responds that the complaint
was filed within the 120-day statute of limitations because
the 120-day timeframe did not begin to run until IHO Milsk
issued a clarification on May 25, 2015.
the IDEA, a party aggrieved by the findings and decision of a
hearing officer may file a civil action within ninety days of
the decision or within the time limitation established by the
state. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(B). The parties agree that
the claims at issue in this appeal must be brought within 120
days of the hearing officer's final decision, a ...