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H.P. v. Naperville Community Unit School District 203

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

November 20, 2017

H.P., a minor, by and through her father, W.P., Plaintiff,
v.
NAPERVILLE COMMUNITY UNIT SCHOOL DISTRICT #203, Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Jeffrey T. Gilbert Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff H.P. ("Plaintiff) has sued Defendant Naperville Community Unit School District 203 ("Defendant") by and through her father, W.P. This matter is now before the Court on Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 36] and Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF No. 42], For the reasons stated below, Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 36] is granted in part and denied in part, and Plaintiffs Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF No. 42] is denied as moot.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The following facts are taken from Plaintiffs complaint. All well-pled allegations are taken as true for the purposes of the motion to dismiss now before the Court, See Anicich v. Home Depot U.S.A., Inc., 852 F.3d 643, 648 (7th Cir. 2017), as amended (Ayr, 13, 2017).

         Plaintiff lived in Naperville, Illinois, between 2008 and early 2016 and attended Naperville Central High School ("NCHS") in District 203. Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief ("Complaint"), [ECF No. 1], ¶¶4, 11, 16. In 2008, Plaintiff s parents divorced. Id. ¶ 10. After the divorce, Plaintiff began to suffer from anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances, and seizures. Id. ¶ 12. In August 2009, Plaintiff was diagnosed with epilepsy and prescribed medication to control her seizures. Id. ¶ 13. In late 2013 and early 2014, Plaintiff received inpatient treatment for school avoidance issues, anxiety, depression, and an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Id. ¶ 15. At that time, Plaintiff was prescribed additional medication to treat her anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Id. Throughout 2014, 2015, and part of 2016, Plaintiffs mother, who suffered from mental health problems of her own, attempted suicide multiple times and was hospitalized. Id. ¶¶ 17-18. In May 2016, Plaintiffs mother committed suicide. Id. ¶ 21. Plaintiff alleges she was devastated by this traumatic event. Id. ¶ 22.

         During her time in school, Plaintiffs anxiety, stress, and depression adversely impacted her ability to learn. Id. ¶ 32. On an unspecified date, Defendant created an Individual Education Plan ("IEP") for Plaintiff to provide her with special education classes and services. Id. ¶ 14. As the mental health of Plaintiff s mother deteriorated in 2015 and 2016, Plaintiffs father become more active in managing Plaintiffs education and home environment. Id. ¶ 18. In January 2015, Defendant conducted an IEP conference with Plaintiff and her father. Id. ¶ 19. During the conference, Plaintiff and her father decided Plaintiff should enroll in general education classes. Id. Defendant counseled them against this course of action and told Plaintiff that she would no longer be eligible for special education classes and services. Id. Plaintiff and her father still decided she did not need an IEP, and no further IEP conferences were held. Id.

         Plaintiff spent her first two years in high school, during which she lived in District 203, at NCHS. Id. ¶ 16. After her mother died, Plaintiff moved to her father's home in Hidden Lake, which is a subdivision in Lisle, Illinois. Id. ¶¶ 23-24. Hidden Lake is in Woodridge School District 68 ("District 68") and Community High School District 99 ("District 99"). Id. ¶ 25. Although Plaintiff no longer lived in District 203, she attended NCHS during her junior year, where she took AP classes, became a member and officer of Future Farmers of America, and earned a teaching assistant position for her senior year. Id. ¶¶ 29, 30; see also Id. ¶ 32. When Plaintiff asked Defendant if she could enroll in NCHS for her senior year, Defendant refused based on its alleged policy of denying all out-of-district enrollments without consideration of a student's individual circumstances ("Out-of-District Enrollment Policy"). Id. ¶¶ 33, 34. Plaintiffs father requested an accommodation for Plaintiff given her circumstances, but Defendant persisted in its position. Id. ¶ 35.

         The residents of Hidden Lake have spent more than a year trying to have Hidden Lake detached from Districts 68 and 99 and attached to District 203. Id. ¶ 27. Plaintiffs home in Hidden Lake is about 2 miles closer to NCHS than to a high school in District 99. Id. ¶ 28. Also, school buses serving Hidden Lake must travel through a separate subdivision that is a part of District 203 in order to get between Hidden Lake and the schools in Districts 68 and 99. Id. ¶ 26. To date, the residents of Hidden Lake have not been successful in their attempts to have Hidden Lake detached from Districts 68 and 99 and attached to District 203. Id. ¶ 27.

         On July 21, 2017, Plaintiff filed a three-count Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief. In Count I, Plaintiff alleges claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"), 42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (the "Rehabilitation Act"), 29 U.S.C. § 701 et seq. Id. ¶¶ 43-48, p. 9-10. In Count II, Plaintiff alleges the Illinois Constitution requires that Hidden Lake be detached from Districts 68 and 99 and seeks "a Declaratory Judgment that, as a matter of law, Hidden Lake must be attached to District 203, [and] therefore, [Plaintiff] cannot be denied enrollment in" District 203. Id. ¶ 56. Finally, Count Ill. does not set forth an independent legal claim, but, rather, only requests the relief of a preliminary injunction based on the allegations in Counts I and II. Id. ¶¶ 57-63.[1]

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         1. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6)

         Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8, a complaint must contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief" Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). A motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) "tests the sufficiency of the complaint." Fuesting v. Uline, Inc., 30 F.Supp.3d 739, 741 (N.D. Ill. 2014). A complaint will survive this test "if, after the court disregards any portions that are no more than conclusions, [the complaint] contains sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." W. Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v. Schumacher, 844 F.3d 670, 675 (7th Cir. 2016) (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678-79 (2009)) (internal quotation marks omitted). A complaint must contain more than bare and conclusory allegations and must do more than create a sheer possibility that a defendant acted unlawfully. Diedrich v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 839 F.3d 583, 589 (7th Cir. 2016); Olson v. Champaign Cty., Ill. 784 F.3d 1093, 1099 (7th Cir. 2015). But the "plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement." Diedrich, 839 F.3d at 589 (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678) (internal quotation marks omitted). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Bible v, United Student Aid Funds, Inc., 799 F.3d 633, 639 (7th Cir.), reh g denied, 807 F.3d 839 (7th Cir. 2015) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678). When evaluating a motion to dismiss, a court must draw all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. Owens v. LVNV Funding, LLC, 832 F.3d 726, 730 (7th Cir. 2016).

         2. Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)

         A motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) is governed by the plausibility standard that applies to a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6). Silha v. ACT, Inc., 807 F.3d 169, 174 (7th Cir. 2015), When a defendant moves to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff "the burden of establishing that the jurisdictional requirements have been met." Ctr. for Dermatology & Skin Cancer, Ltd. v. Burwell, 770 F.3d 586, 588-89 (7th Cir. 2014).

         III. DISCUSSION

         1. Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

         Defendant has moved to dismiss each count in Plaintiffs Complaint.

         a. Count I

         In Count I, Plaintiff alleges Defendant has violated Title II of the ADA and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. A violation of the ADA or the Rehabilitation Act may be proven by showing disparate treatment, failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, or disparate impact.[2] Washington v. Indiana High Sch. Athletic Ass'n, Inc., 181 F.3d 840, 847 (7th Cir. 1999). The last two types of proof are at issue in this lawsuit. Plaintiffs Response to Defendant Naperville Community Unit School District #203's Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint ("Plaintiffs Response"), [ECF No. 44], at 10. Plaintiff alleges Defendant has failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation because it refuses to waive its Out-of-District Enrollment Policy so that she can attend NCHS during her senior year of high school. Id; Complaint, [ECF No. 1], ¶¶ 33-39, 41, 42-48, p. 9-10, To prevail on this claim, Plaintiff will have to show that "she is a qualified individual with a disability and that [Defendant] was aware of her disability yet failed to provide her with a reasonable accommodation." Klene v. Trustees of Indiana Univ., 413 Fed.Appx. 919, 920 (7th Cir. 2011). Plaintiff also alleges the Out-of-District Enrollment Policy has a disparate impact on disabled students. Plaintiffs Response, [ECF No. 44], at 10; Complaint, [ECF No. 1], 40-48, p. 9-10. To prevail on this claim, Plaintiff will have to show the Policy "fall[s] more harshly on one group than another and cannot be justified by [a nondiscriminatory] necessity." Swan v. Bd. of Educ. of City of Chicago, 2013 WL 4401439, at *12 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15, 2013) (quoting Raytheon Co. v. Hernandez, 540 U.S. 44, 52 (2003)) (internal quotation marks omitted). Defendant argues Plaintiff has not plausibly facts to support either claim.

         Defendant first contends Plaintiff "has not established that she is disabled." Memorandum in Support of Defendant Naperville Community Unit School District #203's Motion to Dismiss ("Defendant's Brief), [ECF No. 37], at 6. "A disability is 'a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."' Khan v. Midwestern Univ., 147 F.Supp.3d 718, 722 (N.D. Ill. 2015) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 12102(1)(A)). A major life activity is "an activity of central importance to daily life, " such as "caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working." Brettkr v. Purdue Univ.,408 F.Supp.2d 640, 663 (N.D. Ind. 2006) (quoting Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams,534 U.S. 184, 197 (2002); 45 C.F.R. ยง 84.3(j)(2)(ii)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The substantial limitation standard is not demanding and is satisfied if an individual is "significantly restricted ...


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