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D.F., A Minor, Individually and By His Parent and Legal Guardian, A.C v. Collingswood Public Schools

January 8, 2013

D.F., A MINOR, INDIVIDUALLY AND BY HIS PARENT AND LEGAL GUARDIAN, A.C., PLAINTIFF,
v.
COLLINGSWOOD PUBLIC SCHOOLS, DEFENDANT.



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

OPINION

IRENAS, Senior District Judge:

This is an Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., case. By way of summary judgment motion, Plaintiff principally appeals the ALJ's dismissal of his July, 2010 due process petition due to insufficient factual pleading. For the reasons set forth herein, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.

I.

The background facts of this case have been recited in this Court's prior opinion, D.F. v. Collingswood Public Schools, 804 F. Supp. 2d 250 (D.N.J. 2011), and the Court of Appeals' opinion reversing and remanding in part that decision. D.F. v. Collingswood Borough Board of Education, 694 F.3d 488 (3d Cir. 2012).

In the prior decision, on May 23, 2011, this Court granted Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and denied Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment, holding that (1) D.F.'s claims for compensatory education were moot; and (2) D.F. was not a prevailing party under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B)(i)(I) with regard to the ALJ's June 22, 2009 Order. D.F. v. Collingswood Public Schools, 804 F. Supp. 2d 250 (D.N.J. 2011).

On September 12, 2012, the Court of Appeals reversed this Court's mootness holding but affirmed the prevailing party holding. D.F. v. Collingswood Borough Board of Education, 694 F.3d 488 (3d Cir. 2012). The Court remanded the case to this Court "for factual findings on all the alleged violations of FAPE" and observed that "because D.F. had not presented any testimony before the ALJ when the ALJ declared the claims to be moot, further development of the record is likely to be necessary before D.F.'s claims for compensatory education can be properly evaluated." Id. at 501.

After two status conferences, and written correspondence from both parties, the Court agreed to allow the parties to file summary judgment motions before remanding the case to the ALJ. This opinion addresses only Plaintiff's Motion; a separate opinion will address Defendant's forthcoming Motion, which is not yet due according to the operative scheduling order.

Plaintiff has "refile[d]" the Summary Judgment Motion this Court denied in the May 23, 2011 opinion. (Cover letter to the Motion, Docket Entry #80) The brief in support of the refiled Motion (Docket Entry #81-7) is identical in every respect to the brief in support of Plaintiff's original Motion for Summary Judgment (Docket Entry #49-4).

The refiled Motion raises five arguments:

"1. Plaintiffs [sic] are the prevailing party .

. . by obtaining the relief ordered on June 22, 2009. . . . ;

2. It was an error for the ALJ . . . to find Plaintiff's [July 15, 2010] petition did not meet the sufficiency ...


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