United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Northern Division
E.D., a Minor, by and through his Parents and Next Friends, ANTHONY DOUGHERTY and KATHERINE D. DOUGHERTY et al., Plaintiffs,
PALMYRA R-1 SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CATHERINE D. PERRY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
action is brought by plaintiffs Anthony and Katherine
Dougherty on their own behalf and on behalf of their minor
son, E.D., who has been diagnosed with Trisomy 21 (sometimes
referred to as “Down Syndrome”). E.D. was a
student at Palmyra Elementary School in defendant Palmyra R-1
School District until his parents withdrew him at the
beginning of first grade. On November 25, 2015, plaintiffs
filed a four-count complaint against the District asserting
violations of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II
of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. Plaintiffs allege that the District refused
their request to evaluate E.D. for a Section 504 plan and
provide him with certain disability-related accommodations.
Plaintiffs further allege that, in contrast to their wishes,
the District offered E.D. an individualized education plan
(IEP) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(IDEA). Among other injuries, plaintiffs claim E.D. was
deprived of the opportunity to obtain a free public
education. The District now moves for summary judgment on all
four counts of plaintiffs' complaint. Because the
undisputed evidence establishes that plaintiffs did not
exhaust their administrative remedies before filing this suit
and because plaintiffs' § 1983 claim in Count IV is
barred by Section 504 and the ADA's remedial schemes, I
will grant the District's motion for summary judgment.
Judgment will be entered in favor of the District.
and Procedural Background
E.D. is a former student of the Palmyra R-I School District
who has been medically diagnosed with Trisomy 21. Plaintiff
attended kindergarten and the beginning of first grade at
Palmyra Elementary School (PES) in the District before his
parents chose to withdraw E.D. and home-school him.
to E.D. attending PES, his mother, Katherine Dougherty,
informed the District that she and her husband wanted E.D. to
be placed on a 504 plan. She acknowledged that E.D. also
qualified for an IEP, but asserted they would refuse the IEP.
Approximately a week later, Katherine Dougherty submitted a
Section 504 Referral Form to the District and a Section 504
team convened. Because the team suspected E.D. had a
disability under the IDEA, a referral was made under the IDEA
and the Doughertys were sent a Notice of Action. In July
2014, a multidisciplinary team, which included plaintiff
Katherine Dougherty, met. The team found E.D. met criteria
for special education services under the IDEA. The District
offered to provide an IEP to E.D., but his parents refused
kindergarten, E.D. was placed in a general education,
mainstream classroom. He did not have an IEP or a Section 504
plan. In May of 2015, near the end of E.D.'s kindergarten
year, a multidisciplinary team again met and determined that
E.D. qualified as a student with a disability under IDEA. A
draft IEP was proposed for E.D and plaintiffs were provided
with a Notice of Action. E.D.'s parents refused to
provide consent for him to receive services and the District
did not implement the proposed IEP. E.D.'s parents were
provided with multiple copies of the Notice of Procedural
27, 2015, plaintiffs again requested a 504 evaluation and
plan for E.D. by submitting a referral form to the District.
In June 2015, the District notified E.D.'s parents that
their 504 request was denied. Plaintiffs did not file a due
process complaint under the IDEA. Plaintiffs claim they filed
a “notice of appeal” regarding the District's
denial of their request for a 504 plan, but later withdrew
it. On August 19, 2015, E.D. began first grade at PES, but
was withdrawn after nine days.
November 2015, Plaintiffs filed a four-count complaint
against the District alleging violations of Section 504, the
ADA and Section 1983. Specifically, Counts I and II allege
the District failed to provide E.D. with educational
accommodations in violation of Section 504 and the ADA. In
Count III, Plaintiffs assert the District retaliated against
them in violation of Section 504 and the ADA. Finally, in
Count IV, plaintiffs request relief under Section 1983 for
alleged violations of parents' procedural due process
right to make decisions for E.D. Plaintiffs ask this Court to
order the District to provide accommodations to E.D. under
Section 504. Plaintiffs also seek an award of compensatory
damages and education, along with attorney's fees and
costs. The District now moves for summary judgment on all
four Counts of the complaint.
judgment must be granted when the pleadings and proffer of
evidence demonstrate that no genuine issue of material fact
exists and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a
matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986); Torgerson v.
City of Rochester, 643 F.3d 1031, 1042 (8th Cir. 2011)
(en banc). I must view the facts in the light most favorable
to the nonmoving party, “but only ‘if there is a
genuine dispute as to those facts.'” RSA 1 Ltd.
P'ship v. Paramount Software Assocs., Inc., 793 F.3d
903, 906 (8th Cir. 2015) (quoting Torgerson, 643
F.3d at 1042). “Only disputes over facts that might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing law will
properly preclude the entry of summary judgment.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248,
106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986); Ryan v. Capital
Contractors, Inc., 679 F.3d 772, 776 (8th Cir. 2012).
However, summary judgment is particularly appropriate when
only questions of law are involved, rather than factual
issues that may or may not be subject to genuine dispute.
See, e.g., Cremona v. R.S. Bacon Veneer Co., 433
F.3d 617, 620 (8th Cir. 2006).
relevant facts in this case are not in dispute; instead, the
parties argue whether the law as applied to those facts
requires that judgment be entered in the District's
favor. For the following reasons, the District is entitled to
judgment as a matter of law on the undisputed facts of this
Counts I though IV of the complaint, plaintiffs seek relief
for alleged violations of the Constitution, Section 504 and
the ADA. The District argues that summary judgment must be
granted in its favor because plaintiffs were required as a
matter of law to exhaust their administrative remedies under
the IDEA with respect to each of their claims and it is
undisputed they have not done so. I will first consider
whether Counts I and II were subject to the IDEA's
exhaustion requirement and then separately address Counts III