United States District Court, D. New Jersey
OPINION AND ORDER
B. CLARK, III UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on a motion by
Plaintiff E.G. (“Plaintiff”) for leave to engage
in discovery and to submit additional evidence [ECF No. 7].
Defendant Glen Ridge Board of Education
(“Defendant” or “Glen Ridge”) opposes
Plaintiff's motion [ECF No. 10]. For the reasons set
forth below, Plaintiff's motion [ECF No. 7] is
E.G. resides in the Glen Ridge School District (the
“G.R. School District”) with his adopted
fourteen-year-old daughter R.G. Compl. ¶ 3. R.G. is an
eighth-grade student classified as eligible for special
education and related services under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). Id.
¶ 9; ECF No. 10 at 4. According to Plaintiff, R.G.
suffers from severe problems with communication, cognition,
attention learning, emotional functioning and behavior that
have substantially impacted her education. Id.
¶ 11. Because of R.G.'s disabilities, she was unable
to make academic progress in the G.R. School District.
Id. ¶ 13. Accordingly, Glen Ridge placed R.G.
at Calais School (“Calais”), which is an approved
private school for children with disabilities. Id.
issues arose at Calais, R.G. was placed in a special
education program at West Essex Middle School (“West
Essex”). Compl. ¶ 17. West Essex is located
approximately nine miles from Plaintiff's home and,
unlike the G.R. School District, it offers a wide range of
after-school extracurricular activities and clubs, which are
integral to its educational program. Id.
¶¶ 18, 20. According to Defendant, participation in
these extracurricular activities for students at West Essex
is purely elective. ECF No. 10 at 5.
the time R.G. transferred to West Essex, her psychiatrist
expressed serious concern that R.G. had become “very
socially isolated” and recommended that R.G.
participate in extracurricular activities to help cope with
stress. Compl. ¶¶ 24-25. Although participation in
extracurricular activities was recommended, R.G.'s
Individualized Education Program (“IEP”) failed
to include any transportation after regular school hours.
Id. ¶35. Glen Ridge denied Plaintiff's
request to have late-bus transportation for R.G. from after
school activities. Id. ¶ 37. Plaintiff contends
that, without late-bus transportation, “R.G. will not
be able to regularly participate in after-school
extracurricular activities at West Essex Middle like her
peers and as needed to meet her special education
needs.” Compl. ¶ 62.
October 14, 2016, Plaintiff filed a complaint with the New
Jersey Department of Education, Office of Special Education,
for a due process hearing related to R.G.'s
education.Compl. ¶ 72. Plaintiff's complaint
challenges Defendant's alleged failure to afford R.G. an
equal opportunity to participate in extracurricular
activities by denying her the necessary late-bus
transportation. Id. After the parties were unable to
resolve their issues, this matter was assigned to the Office
of Administrative Law for a hearing before the Honorable
Leland S. McGee, Administrative Law Judge
(“ALJ”). Compl. ¶¶ 73-75. By February
of 2017, both parties had cross moved for summary decision on
the issue related to R.G.'s transportation. Id.
¶ 76. In his opinion dated July 20, 2017, Judge McGee
ruled in favor of Defendant and concluded that Plaintiff did
not meet his burden to show that the current IEP did not
provide R.G. with a fair and appropriate education or that
Glen Ridge had discriminated against her. Id. ¶
result of Judge McGee's decision, Plaintiff filed this
case alleging, inter alia, that Defendant violated
R.G.'s rights under the IDEA, Section 504, the ADA, and
New Jersey's special education law. Compl. ¶¶
89-90 (Count I). The Complaint further alleges that Defendant
discriminated against R.G. in violation of Section 504 and
Title II of the ADA. Id. ¶¶ 91-94 (Count
II, III). After the Complaint was filed, on February 23,
2018, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to engage in
discovery and to submit additional evidence. Defendant
opposes Plaintiff's motion.
IDEA provides as follows:
Any party aggrieved by the findings and decision made under
subsection (f) or (k) who does not have the right to an
appeal under subsection (g), and any party aggrieved by the
findings and decision made under this subsection, shall have
the right to bring a civil action with respect to the
complaint presented pursuant to this section, which action
may be brought in any State court of competent jurisdiction
or in a district court of the United States, without regard
to the amount in controversy.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(A). Further, the statute's
“additional requirements” clause provides:
In any action brought under this paragraph, the court- (i)
shall receive the records of the administrative proceedings;
(ii) shall hear additional evidence at the request of a
party; and (iii) basing its decision on the preponderance of
the evidence, shall grant such relief as ...