United States District Court, D. New Jersey
September 21, 2005.
TOWNSHIP OF BLOOMFIELD BOARD OF EDUCATION, Plaintiff,
S.C. o/b/o T.M.; STATE OF NEW JERSEY; DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FOR NEW JERSEY Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: DICKINSON DEBEVOISE, Senior District Judge
This matter is before the Court upon: (i) the motion of the
State of New Jersey and New Jersey Department of Education
(together "State Defendants"), for dismissal of the Complaint
against them; (ii) the motion of the Township of Bloomfield Board
of Education (the "Board") for summary judgment against the State
Defendants; (iii) the motion of the Board for summary judgment
reversing the June 29, 2004 Order of the Administrative Law
Judge; (iv) the motion of S.C. o/b/o T.M. ("S.C.")*fn1 for
summary judgment affirming the June 29, 2004 Order of the
Administrative Law Judge; and (v) the motion of S.C. o/b/o TM for
imposition of sanctions on the Board or its attorneys.
Bloomfield filed its Complaint appealing a decision of an
Administrative Law Judge finding that Bloomfield is required to
pay for T.M.'s residential placement. In its Complaint,
Bloomfield also alleges that the State Defendants failed to
promulgate an interagency agreement pursuant to the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"), and that as a result of
their failure to do so, Bloomfield has been burdened with the
entire cost and responsibility of T.M.'s residential placement.
This case arises under the IDEA, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., a
statute through which Congress provides federal funds to state and local agencies to
assist with the education of disabled children. Under the IDEA, a
school district which receives federal assistance is required to
provide a disabled child with a free and appropriate public
education ("FAPE"). See 20 U.S.C. § 1412(1). Each state
education agency ("SEA") or local education agency ("LEA") is
responsible for devising an individualized education program
("IEP") for the child and providing other safeguards to protect
the child's right to an FAPE. See 20 U.S.C. § 1415. In New
Jersey, the LEA responsible for providing a FAPE is the local
school district, in this case, Bloomfield. See N.J.A.C.
6A:14-1.1(d). The IDEA imposes procedural requirements on the
states as well. IDEA procedures require that a child advocate
have the opportunity to present complaints with respect to any
matter relating to the identification, evaluation, or educational
placement of the child. See 20 U.S.C. §§ 1415(a) & 1415(b)(6).
When a complaint is received under § 1415, a due process hearing
may result via the states's administrative law process. See
20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(1). In New Jersey, the agency designated to
handle these complaints is the Office of Administrative Law, and
an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") adjudicates disputes. An
ALJ's decision may be appealed to a United States District Court.
See 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2).
T.M. was born on May 24, 1990 and resides with his mother,
S.C., in the Township of Bloomfield. The Bloomfield Board of
Education operates a kindergarten through twelfth grade school
district. T.M. is a student eligible for special education
services under the IDEA (at the time of the filing of the
Complaint, T.M. was thirteen years old). T.M.'s eligibility is
based upon a classification of emotionally disturbed. T.M. has been multiply diagnosed,*fn2 has required
numerous psychiatric hospitalizations and therapeutic services
from a number of providers,*fn3 and has been on several
psychotropic medications to address his behavioral and
psychological instability. T.M. was classified as emotionally
disturbed in January 1999 while attending the Franklin Elementary
School ("Franklin") in the Bloomfield school district. While at
Franklin, T.M. was cited by school administration and suspended
on approximately thirteen occasions.*fn4
In the Fall of 2000 T.M. entered Bloomfield Middle School
("BMS"). When T.M. entered BMS, S.C. requested a reevaluation of
T.M. and a residential placement. Bloomfield denied S.C.'s
request. T.M.'s disruptive behavior continued while he was
enrolled at BMS*fn5 and in December 2002 T.M. was suspended
and placed on home instruction. Bloomfield conducted a
reevaluation of T.M. following his suspension.
On or about January 18, 2001, while he was at BMS, Dr. Ellen
Platt, a child analyst and psychiatrist, evaluated T.M. and
recommended that T.M.: 1) be placed in a highly structured classroom setting with minimum distractions and behaviorally
oriented techniques, 2) receive social skills training, and 3)
receive intense psychotherapy with individual and family
components. On or about October 10, 2001, S.C. signed an IEP that
was prepared by the IEP team and she requested that it be
implemented immediately. T.M.'s program included placement in the
regular classroom with in and out of class support, modifications
and supplemental aids and services. A modified behavior
intervention plan was in place. However, T.M.'s behavior became
more disruptive and inappropriate as the school year proceeded.
In the fall of the 2002-2003 school year, T.M. exhibited
increasingly disruptive and inappropriate behavior and the IEP
team concluded that T.M. should be placed on home instruction
pending the completion of child study team evaluations, including
a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Platt. S.C. consented to the
evaluations and the home instruction placement pending receipt of
the evaluations. A manifest determination was conducted at the
hearing and it was determined that T.M.'s behavior was a
manifestation of his disability. In or about December 2002, Dr.
Platt conducted a psychiatric assessment as a part of the
reevaluation and she found: 1) T.M.'s behavior had worsened, 2)
T.M. had an affinity for sociopathic behavior, and 3) T.M. had a
tremendous amount of rage. Dr. Platt also concluded that T.M.
posed a threat to other children and needed to be placed in a
highly restrictive program with 24-hour monitoring and
supervision outside of the regular school setting. S.C. was
advised to pursue intensive psychiatric treatment, monitoring,
and follow-up for further diagnostic clarification and
psychotropic medication.*fn6 At the reevaluation meeting in
December 2002, Bloomfield offered the Forest Glen School, an in-district alternative day school, as
an appropriate placement for T.M. However, S.C. did not believe
that Glen-Forest was an appropriate placement for T.M., and in
January 2002, she filed a request for mediation with the United
States Department of Education Office of Special Education
On February 5, 2003, Bloomfield and S.C. signed a mediation
agreement, under which Bloomfield would look for an out of
district placement and an IEP meeting would be held in May 2003
to determine the appropriate program for T.M. during the
2003-2004 school year. Pursuant to that agreement, Bloomfield
tried to secure placements for T.M. However, on April 23, 2003,
after an out of district placement was not located for T.M., S.C.
filed a due process petition seeking, inter alia, a
determination that a residential placement was appropriate and
necessary under the IDEA. See 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq.
On May 22, 2003, a reevaluation planning meeting was held. At
the meeting, the IEP team again offered Forest Glen as a
potential placement. S.C. refused to allow T.M. to be placed at
Forest Glen and wanted to look for a more appropriate placement,
but Bloomfield refused. Because S.C. and Bloomfield could not
reach an agreement, T.M. remained on home instruction for the
remainder of the school year. With no other potential placements
offered,*fn7 S.C. independently pursued residential
placements. By August 2003, T.M. had been accepted for a day
placement at the High Point School ("HPS"), a state-approved
school for emotionally disturbed children, located in Lodi, New
Jersey. S.C. withdrew her due process complaint after Bloomfield agreed to place T.M. at HPS and conduct additional
At the time of the May 2003 IEP meeting, the Division of Youth
and Family Services ("DYFS") determined that it would place T.M.
in a residential facility provided S.C. consented, and that
Bloomfield be responsible for the educational component while
T.M. was placed at the residential facility. In accordance with
DYFS's request, Dr. Ruth Rivera, Director of Special Services at
Bloomfield, told DYFS that Bloomfield would adhere to DYFS's
request. However, S.C. had already agreed to the placement of
T.M. at HPS pending disposition of her due process petition. S.C.
also requested that Bloomfield pursue a day placement for T.M. at
East Mountain Youth Services ("EMYS") and informed Bloomfield
that she was not interested in pursuing any of the other day
placements that Bloomfield was considering. After EMYS determined
that it did not have an appropriate placement for T.M., S.C. and
Bloomfield agreed that T.M. would attend HPS and no further
action would be taken to secure another day placement unless and
until information was received that HPS was not appropriate.
In September 2003, T.M. began attending HPS. At HPS, T.M.
exhibited poor behavior, refused to do school work, threatened
students and staff and was suspended on several occasions. It
also became necessary to transport him to school individually. In
October 2003, per S.C.'s request, Bloomfield conducted a
functional behavior assessment of T.M. On November 18, 2003, S.C.
and Bloomfield agreed to continue T.M.'s placement at HPS for the
remainder of the 2003-2004 school year and to meet in February or
March 2004 to consider the appropriateness of an extended school
year for T.M. and whether a different placement should be sought
for T.M. for the 2004-2005 school year. According to the
agreement, S.C. agreed to withdraw her due process petition
without prejudice. On or about February 2, 2004, before a behavior development
plan could be developed for T.M., T.M. was expelled from HPS for
threatening a teacher.*fn8 On February 18, 2004, an IEP
meeting was held at HPS to determine T.M.'s next placement. At
the meeting, Bloomfield offered IEPs for placement at Forest Glen
or home instruction. S.C. rejected both the potential placement
and home instruction option, and she requested an out of district
placement for T.M.
Because Bloomfield could not find an appropriate out of
district placement, on or about March 12, 2004, S.C. filed a
petition for a due process hearing with OSEP seeking the issuance
of an order from the Office of Administrative Law directing
Bloomfield to place T.M. in a residential facility. The matter
was transmitted to OSEP in accordance with 20 U.S.C. § 1415 and
24 C.F.R. § 300.500 to 300.587, and Administrative Law Judge
Margaret M. Hayden (the "ALJ") was assigned to the case. A
hearing was held on April 8, June 9, 15 and 16, 2004.*fn9
At the due process hearing, Bloomfield stated its position that
T.M. required medical stabilization before he could be
educated.*fn10 Many of the professionals who examined T.M.
testified at the hearing and provided evidence detailing the
history of T.M.'s treatment and condition. Dr. Platt testified that T.M. was unstable and needed
around the clock treatment.*fn11 In December 2002, Dr. Platt
examined T.M. and was surprised by the extent to which T.M.'s
condition had deteriorated. Dr. Jack Goralsky, a clinical
psychologist, testified that T.M. would need a residential
placement with a solid psychiatric program and an educational
component including social skills training, anger management and
individual and family therapy. Dr. Goralsky also testified that
even if T.M. required stabilization in a hospital, T.M. would
need a residential educational placement subsequent to discharge.
Both Dr. Platt and Dr. Goralsky testified that T.M. was not
available for educational growth during periods throughout his
childhood. Dr. Ellen Fenster-Kuehl, a clinical psychologist, also
testified at the hearing. She recommended that T.M. be placed in
a residential facility that included long term psychiatric care,
intensive individual and group psychotherapy, a 24 hour day
treatment plan including medication, drug monitoring and training
for social skills. She further testified that T.M. would require
long term care because T.M. would be unable to modulate his moods
and behavior. Dr. Fenster-Kuehl concurred with Dr. Goralsky that
even after being stabilized, T.M. would have to go to a
Other professionals also concluded that T.M. needed a
residential placement. Both Kristen Lowe, T.M.'s therapist, and
Dr. Joy Robertson, T.M.'s psychiatrist, recommended a residential
placement for T.M. On July 23, 2003, Dr. Allan J. Herman
conducted an evaluation which revealed that T.M. needed to be
placed in a residential treatment facility where he could receive
both psychological treatment and an education. On August 20,
2004, Dr. Mercedes Paine performed an evaluation on T.M., and she recommended that
T.M. be placed in a residential placement program that was highly
therapeutic, structured, and one that could meet his emotional
and educational needs. Michael Shave, the Senior Primary
Therapist at the Adolescent Partial Hospitalization Unit at
Jersey City Medical Center where T.M. was treated in November
2003, concluded that T.M. required the 24 hour supervision
offered by residential care.
II. The ALJ's Decision
The ALJ set forth in detail the events of T.M.'s educational,
psychological and family history. She summarized the testimony of
the various educational and psychiatric experts who appeared at
the hearing. She framed the issues as i) whether Bloomfield
provided T.M. with a FAPE in the least restrictive environment
and, if not, ii) whether T.M. needed a residential setting for
The ALJ noted Bloomfield's contention that although T.M. now
needs a residential placement, it is strictly for psychiatric,
not educational reasons. She observed, however, that "the
evidence showed T.M.'s emotional and educational needs are so
intertwined that they cannot be separated. Because his
psychiatric, social, and emotional needs must be addressed in
order for him to learn, T.M. requires a residential placement for
As to Bloomfield's placement of T.M. at High Point, the ALJ
Even before the High Point placement Dr. Platt had
informed the District of T.M.'s need for 24 hour
monitoring and supervision in December 2002 . . . The
extremely aggressive and hostile behavior of T.M. at
High Point should certainly indicate to the District
that High Point was not appropriate.
. . . I CONCLUDE that the District has not met its burden
of proving that it offered T.M. a FAPE in the least
restrictive environment by the High Point placement.
Moreover, there is no evidence of any difference
between the placement at High Point and the placement
at Forest Glen as far as increased therapeutic
programming. Therefore, based on T.M.'s severe
handicapped (sic), I CONCLUDE Forest Glen would not
have provided a significant or meaningful education.
The ALJ addressed the question whether a residential placement,
which by that time all parties agreed was required, was necessary
to provide special education and related services to T.M. at no
cost to his parent or whether full-time placement was the
response to medical, social or emotional problems that are
segregable from the learning process. Bloomfield argued that the
placement was not for educational purposes but rather for medical
purposes which were not covered by IDEA and the expenses of which
were not the obligation of the school district. Relying on
Kruelle v. New Castle Co. School Dist., 642 F. 2d 687 (3d Cir.
1981), the ALJ found against Bloomfield, stating:
Rather this placement is to provide integrated
treatment to address his psychiatric, emotional,
social and educational needs in order for him to be
available for learning. I FIND that the residential
placement proposed is not to provide acute
psychiatric treatment but rather to provide a
consistent therapeutic environment with intense
therapeutic services to allow T.M. to receive an
educational benefit. I FIND it is not possible to
separate the need for the residential placement into
a part that deals with the learning process and a
part that does not because until his emotional,
psychiatric and behavioral problems are addressed, he
will not have a meaningful benefit from any academic
Based on these findings the ALJ concluded that i) a residential
placement is necessary and appropriate for educational purposes,
ii) Bloomfield must pay for all costs and related services of the
residential placement, including diagnostic or evaluative
services but not for those medical services that must be
performed by a physician, 34 CFR 300.24, and iii) T.M. needs a
highly therapeutic treatment with an intense psychiatric component. On
June 29, 2004 the ALJ ordered Bloomfield to "provide a
residential placement immediately and pay for the cost of
tuition, room and board and all non-medical related services and
T.M. now resides at Kids Peace, a restricted residential
facility located in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Bloomfield has
appealed the ALJ's order requiring it to pay for the facility and
it has joined the State Defendants seeking to enforce an asserted
State obligation to enter into an interagency agreement under
which the State would assume this payment.
The State Defendants have moved to dismiss Count II of
Bloomfield's complaint asserted against them. Bloomfield has
moved for summary judgment on that Court.
Bloomfield moves for a summary judgment reversing the ALJ's
June 29, 2004 order; defendant S.C. cross-moves for summary
judgment affirming the June 29, 2004 order and also moves for
A. State Defendants' Motion to Dismiss
State Defendants move to dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's
Complaint pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1) or Fed.R.Civ.P.
A FAPE is available to all children with disabilities residing
in New Jersey between the ages of 3 and 21. See
20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq. Under the IDEA, an eligible student is entitled
to, inter alia, have evaluations performed, an IEP developed
based on the evaluations, and to receive a free public
educational program that implements the IEP. Plaintiff in this
case, Bloomfield, is the LEA, and therefore it is required to
implement the IDEA for all classified children from the ages of
three to twenty-one. See N.J.S.A. 18A:46-6, 8-10, 13, 14. The IDEA confers jurisdiction upon the United States district
courts to hear actions brought under 20 U.S.C. § 1415, without
regard to the amount in controversy. M.A. ex rel. E.S. v.
State-Operated Sch. Dist. of City of Newark, 344 F.3d 335, 343
(3d Cir. 2003); 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(A). This provision means
that district courts have subject matter jurisdiction over
actions challenging the procedural protections set forth in
20 U.S.C. § 1415.
Count II of the Complaint alleges that the State Defendants
failed to facilitate the existence of interagency agreements,
pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1412(A) & (B) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.142, to
ensure that services necessary for the provision of a FAPE are
provided to T.M. in accordance with the mandates of the IDEA.
(Comp. at ¶¶ 28-34). It is Bloomfield's contention that the State
Department of Education should have entered into an agreement
with DYFS to provide the kind of residential treatment that T.M.
required which was essentially the provision of medical services
rather than educational services or services related thereto. The
question presented is whether the IDEA creates a private right
action for an LEA against the State to compel funding.
On their motion to dismiss Count II of Plaintiff's Complaint,
State Defendants contend that Bloomfield does not have a private
right of action under the IDEA because the IDEA does not give
municipalities such an action against state defendants.
Therefore, it follows that Bloomfield has failed to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted. The State Defendants also argue
that Bloomfield cannot file a due process petition against the
Department pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(b).
Bloomfield relied heavily on S.C. v. Deptford Twp. Bd. of
Educ., 213 F. Supp. 2d 452 (D.N.J. 2002) which held that the
IDEA provided an LEA with a private right of action to sue a state defendant for a portion of the costs of providing a FAPE.
The State Defendants relied on the unreported decision in
Lawrence Twp. Bd. of Educ. v. State of New Jersey, Civ. A. No.
03-4073 (D.N.J. 2004) which held that the IDEA does not create a
cause of action for an LEA against the state to compel funding.
After the instant motions were fully briefed the Court of Appeals
affirmed Lawrence, thus rejecting Bloomfield's position and
holding that IDEA does not provide a school district with a
private right of action. Lawrence Township Board of Education v.
New Jersey, 417 F.3d 368 (3dCir. 2005).
The Lawrence Township Board of Education instituted an action
against the State of New Jersey seeking to compel it to fund
E.E.'s, a disabled child, residential placement. The Board
asserted that the NJDOE failed to promulgate an interagency
agreement with the New Jersey Department of Developmental
Disabilities ("DDD") pursuant to mandates of the IDEA and that
its failure to do so resulted in the DDD's refusal and failure to
pay for E.E.'s residential program. The State moved to dismiss
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) claiming that the IDEA does not
afford the Board a private right of action. The district court
granted the motion.
Affirming, the Court of Appeals stated:
Section 1415(a) of the IDEA, entitled "establishment
of procedures," provides that procedures shall be
established and maintained "in accordance with this
section to ensure that children with disabilities and
their parents are guaranteed procedural safeguards
with respect to the provision of [a FAPE]."
20 U.S.C. § 1415(a) (2003) (emphasis added). Similarly, section
1412(a)(6), which is entitled "procedural
safeguards," provides that "[c]hildren with
disabilities and their parents are afforded the
procedural safeguards required by section ."
20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(6)(A) (2003).
This language strongly suggests that Congress
intended to provide a private right of action only to
disabled children and their parents. Indeed, section
1415(b), which sets forth the types of procedures
required, limits most relief under those procedures to the parents of a disabled child.
. . .
While section 1415(b)(6) is crafted more broadly than
other subsections, this fact alone does not indicate
an intent to permit a private right of action by an
LEA against a state. Instead, when examined in the
context of the IDEA as a whole, the language of
section 1415(b)(6) is at best ambiguous.
. . .
For similar reasons, Lawrence Township has no implied
right of action under the IDEA. As the Supreme Court
has instructed, "`unless [the] Congressional intent
can be inferred from the language of the statute, the
statutory structure, or some other source, the
essential predicate for implication of a private
remedy simply does not exist.'" As the District Court
noted, "this case is not about the child's
educational needs, but rather the Township's fiscal
ones." App. 25. A budgetary dispute between local and
state agencies is simply not among the private
actions contemplated by the IDEA, and is
traditionally the type of dispute left to state and
417 F.3d at 371 (citations omitted)
The Court of Appeals decision in Lawrence is dispositive, and
the State Defendants' other grounds for dismissal need not be
considered. The motion of the State Defendants to dismiss
Bloomfield's complaint will be granted. By the same token,
Bloomfield's motion for summary judgment on its complaint against
the State Defendants will be denied.
B. Cross Motions for Summary Judgment
Bloomfield has moved for summary judgment reversing the ALJ's
decision. SC has moved for summary judgment affirming the ALJ's
decision and has moved for sanctions to be imposed upon
Bloomfield or its attorneys.
A motion for summary judgment will be granted if after drawing
all inferences in favor of the nonmoving party, "the pleadings, depositions, answers to
interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the
affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any
material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment
as a matter of law". Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Apalucci v. Agora
Syndicate, Inc., 145 F.3d 630, 631 (3d Cir. 1998) ; Todaro v.
Bowman, 872 F.2d 43, 46 (3d Cir. 1989); Davis v. Portline
Transportes Maritime Int'l, 16 F.3d 532, 536 n. 3 (3d Cir.
1994); Pollock v. Am. Tel. & Tel. Long Lines, 794 F.2d 860, 864
(3d Cir. 1986).
At the summary judgment stage, the court's function is not to
weigh the evidence and determine the truth of the matter, but
rather to determine whether there is a genuine issue for trial.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249 (1986). A
genuine issue may exist if the record taken as a whole could lead
a rational trier of fact to find for the party opposing summary
judgment. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp.,
475 U.S. 574, 587 (1986).
Under Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c), the moving party bears the burden
of pointing out to the district court an absence of evidence to
support the nonmoving party's case. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 325 (1986). The court will take the nonmoving
party's allegations of fact as true. Goodman v. Mead Johnson &
Co., 534 F.2d 566, 573 (3d Cir. 1976). If the moving party meets
its burden, the opposition bears the burden of "set[ting] forth
specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial."
In the present case there are no issues of material fact. The
question is one of law, whether in the undisputed circumstances
of this case Bloomfield is obligated to pay for T.M.'s
Any party aggrieved by the decision of an Administrative Law
Judge has a right to appeal to a state court of competent
jurisdiction or to a federal district court.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(2). Pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(1)(A) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.510,
the decision is final and appealable to a United States District
Court by filing a Complaint. The standard of review of
administrative decisions issued under the IDEA is de novo for
questions of law and modified de novo for findings of fact.
S.H. v. State-Operated Sch. Dist. of the City of Newark,
336 F.3d 260 (3d Cir. 2003); Carlisle Area Sch. Dist. v. Scott P.,
62 F.3d 520 (3d Cir. 1995); P.N. v. Greco, 282 F.Supp.2d 221
(D.N.J. 2003). When reviewing an ALJ's decision under the IDEA,
the reviewing court shall receive the records of the
administrative proceedings, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e), and the district
court shall give due weight to those proceedings. Bd. of Educ.
v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 206 (1982); S.H. v. State-Operated
Sch. Dist. of the City of Newark, 336 F.3d 260 (3d Cir. 2003);
S.C. v. Deptford Twp. Bd. of Educ., 213 F.Supp.2d 452 (D.N.J.
2002); S.C. v. Deptford Twp. Bd. of Educ., 248 F.Supp.2d 368,
375-76 (D.N.J. 2003).
The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit "has interpreted the
Supreme Court's decision in Rowley to require that a court
consider-although not necessarily to accept-the administrative
findings of fact", and "if the district court chooses to depart
from the agency's ruling, it should provide some explanation for
its departure." S.H. v. State-Operated Sch. Dist. of the City of
Newark, 336 F.3d at 269-70. "Factual findings from the
administrative proceeding are to be considered prima facie
correct." Id. (citations omitted). When a district court hears
additional evidence, it may accept or reject the ALJ's findings;
however, when no additional evidence is presented, the court must
find evidence contained in the record to support factual
conclusions different from those of the ALJ. Id. at 270.
Bloomfield contends that it should be granted summary judgment
because the ALJ erred as a matter of law in determining that
Plaintiff is required to finance a residential placement for T.M. Bloomfield's arguments in support of its contention are 1)
T.M.'s medical and educational needs were not inextricably
intertwined; 2) T.M. needed residential placement for his severe
psychiatric problems, not to provide him with a FAPE; 3) the ALJ
misconstrued the meaning of Cedar Rapids Cmty. Sch. Dist. v.
Garret F, 526 U.S. 66 (1999) and her broad reading of the case
was not supported by the text of her opinion; 4) the ALJ
disregarded the educational/medical needs analysis required by
Kruelle v. New Castle County Sch. Dist., 642 F.2d 687 (3d Cir.
1981); 5) Irving Indep. Sch. Dist. v. Tatro, 468 U.S. 883
(1984) is not relevant to this case; and 6) the weight of
credible evidence before the ALJ established that psychiatric
stabilization was required before appropriate educational
programming decisions could be made.
The record establishes, as the ALJ found, that Bloomfield did
not develop an IEP that was reasonably calculated to provide T.M.
with a FAPE. His assignment to the High Point School was a
failure, and an assignment to Forest Glen was no better. At this
point there is no disagreement that a component of a FAPE must be
a residential facility, such as Kids Peace which T.M. now
Bloomfield's contention that Kids Peace is simply a psychiatric
treatment facility and thus within the medical exclusion is not
supported by the record, given the wide scope the courts have
given to required "related services" and the narrow scope they
have given the "medical" exclusion. Related Services means
"transportation and such developmental, corrective, and other
supportive services as are required to assist a child with a
disability to benefit from special education."
20 U.S.C. § 1401(22); 34 C.F.R. 300.24(a). They include psychological
services, counseling, health services, social work services,
parent counseling and training and medical services for
diagnostic and evaluation purposes. 20 U.S.C. § 1401(22);
34 C.F.R. § 300.24(a). these are the kinds of services that a residential facility is
expected to provide T.M. The record reflects the extensive
efforts Bloomfield and S.C. have made to find a less restrictive
environmental that would provide a FAPE. All failed. In these
circumstances "the program, including non-medical care and room
and board, must be at no cost to the parents of the child."
34 C.F.R. § 302.302.
T.M.'s psychiatric stabilization is a necessary part of his
educational program. This is a continuing, interrelated process
in which his psychological difficulties and his education
continue in tandem. While medical doctors and psychiatrists may
diagnose and evaluate T.M. and aides may provide continuing
counseling and monitoring, it is part of an educational process.
Without the diagnosis and evaluation and without the counseling
and monitoring the educational process could not take place.
In Irving Independent School Dist. v. Tatro, 468 U.S. 883
(1984), the Court addressed the question whether providing clean
intermittent catheterization ("CIC") to a student constituted a
related service that a school district was required to provide
under the IDEA or whether providing CIC was excluded as a related
service because it was a "medical service" serving purposes other
than diagnosis or evaluation. The Court held that "[b]y limiting
the "medical services" exclusion to the services of a physician
or hospital . . . the Secretary has given a permissible
construction of the provision." 468 U.S. at 893.
In Cedar Rapids Cmty. Sch. Dist. v. Garret F., 526 U.S. 66
(1999) the Court rejected a school district's effort to apply a
multifactor test to determine whether services constituted
"medical services." The Court rejected that approach, stating,
"[w]hatever its imperfections, a rule that limits the medical
services exemption to physician services is unquestionably a reasonable and generally workable interpretation of the statute.
Absent an elaboration of the statutory terms plainly more
convincing than that which we reviewed in Tatro, there is no
good reason to depart from settled law." 526 U.S. at 76. Third
Circuit Court of Appeals authority is consistent with Tatro and
Cedar Rapids, Kruelle v. New Castle County Sch. Dist.,
642 F.2d 687 (1981).
T.M.'s residential placement is necessary for educational
purposes. He cannot obtain educational benefits unless his
educational program is accompanied by therapeutic treatment.
Bloomfield must pay for the costs of the residential facility
including diagnostic and evaluative medical services. It follows
that Bloomfield's motion for summary judgment reversing the ALJ's
order will be denied; S.C.'s motion for summary judgment
affirming the ALJ's order will be granted.
S.C. moves for sanctions against the Board or its attorneys
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(1)(B), contending that the
arguments raised by counsel are not warranted by existing law and
have no evidentiary support. It is true that Bloomfield has lost
on the merits. However, as in many IDEA cases, extraordinarily
difficult problems exist concerning the best way to deal with a
person as psychologically damaged as T.M. Medical, psychiatric
and educational problems abound, all of which must be dealt with
in an often emotionally charged context. It may be that no
satisfactory outcome is possible. In such a situation opinions
can and will vary and no one can be sure he or she has the right
answer. Bloomfield cannot be faulted for advancing its position.
Sanctions are not warranted, and S.C.'s motion will be denied.
Bloomfield's motion for summary judgment against the State
Defendants will be denied. The State Defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint against it
will be granted. Bloomfield's motion for summary judgment
reversing the ALJ's June 29, 2004 opinion and order will be
denied. S.C.'s motion for summary judgment affirming the ALJ's
June 29, 2004 opinion and order will be granted. S.C.'s motion
for sanctions will be denied. The court will enter an appropriate
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