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W.K. v. Sea Isle City Board of Education

February 5, 2007

W.K. AND P.K., INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF M.K., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
SEA ISLE CITY BOARD OF EDUCATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Joseph E. Irenas

OPINION

Plaintiffs commenced this action on April 18, 2006, seeking enforcement of a settlement agreement entered pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (the "IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et. seq., before a New Jersey State Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ").

Defendant moved to dismiss this case on July 10, 2006, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and untimeliness. For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion will be denied.

I.

Plaintiff, M.K., is a minor child with autism. At all relevant times, M.K. has been a student residing within the Sea Isle City School District. (Compl. ¶ 1). Plaintiffs W.K. and P.K. are M.K.'s parents, residing with M.K. at an address within the Sea Isle City School District. (Id. at ¶ 2).

Defendant is alleged to be a duly constituted school district organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 4). Defendant is alleged to be a "local educational agency" as defined in the IDEA, (Id. at ¶ 5), who is statutorily obligated under the IDEA to provide M.K. with a free and appropriate public education. (Id. at ¶ 10).

On May 16, 2005, W.K. and P.K., on behalf of M.K., filed a request for a due process hearing with the Office of Administrative Law for the State of New Jersey. (Compl. ¶ 11). This matter was assigned to ALJ Lillard E. Law. (Id. at ¶ 13).

The parties engaged in settlement discussions and agreed to settle the matter, with amount of attorneys' fees to be adjudicated thereafter. (Compl. ¶ 14). The parties signed a document entitled Stipulation of Settlement (Donio Cert., Ex. 1) and submitted the document to ALJ Law. On September 22, 2005, ALJ Law issued an order approving the settlement. (Compl. ¶ 17).

ALJ Law's order concludes:

This decision is final pursuant to 20 U.S.C.A. § 1415(i)(1)(A) and 34 C.F.R. § 300.510 (2002) and is appealable by filing a complaint and bringing a civil action either in the Law Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey or in a District Court of the United States. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1415(i)(2); 34 C.F.R. § 300.512 (2002). If either party feels that this decision is not being fully implemented, this concern should be communicated in writing to the Director, Office of Special Education Programs. (Donio Cert., Ex. 1).

On April 18, 2006, Plaintiffs commenced this action seeking enforcement of the settlement agreement and alleging various breaches by Defendant. (Compl. ¶¶ 18-71). Defendant moves to dismiss the case pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and untimeliness.

II.

Motions pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1) may either "attack the complaint on its face" or "attack the existence of subject matter jurisdiction in fact, quite apart from any pleadings." Mortensen v. First Federal Savings and Loan Association, 549 F.2d 884, 891 (3d Cir. 1977). Facial attacks are similar to 12(b)(6) motions because the Court must consider the allegations of the complaint as true. "The factual attack, however, differs greatly" because "the trial court is free to weigh the evidence and satisfy itself as to the existence of its power to hear the case... [N]o presumptive truthfulness attaches to plaintiff's allegations, and the existence of disputed material ...


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