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Robinson v. Colorado Department of Education

United States District Court, D. Colorado

April 3, 2019

SAMUEL COLLIN ROBINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, EXCEPTIONAL STUDENT SERVICES UNIT, Defendant.

          ORDER ADOPTING NOVEMBER 5, 2018 RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          CHRISTINE M. ARGUELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court upon the November 5, 2018 Recommendation (Doc. # 15) by United States Magistrate Judge Gordon P. Gallagher that this Court grant Defendant Colorado Department of Education's (“CDE”) Motion to Dismiss (Doc. # 8). Plaintiff Samuel Collin Robinson filed an Objection (Doc. # 16) to the Recommendation on November 16, 2018, and Defendant filed a Response (Doc. # 19) on December 13, 2018. For the reasons that follow, the Court affirms and adopts the Recommendation, granting Defendant's Motion.

         I. BACKGROUND

         The Magistrate Judge's Recommendation provides a recitation of the factual and procedural background of this dispute and is incorporated herein by reference. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b). Accordingly, this Order will reiterate only what is necessary to address Defendant's objections.

         Plaintiff is the father of a second-grade student, and he is divorced from his son's mother. The parents share decision making responsibilities with regard to their son's education. Plaintiff and his ex-wife had a disagreement as to whether their son may have a disability-Plaintiff did not believe his son had a disability, but his ex-wife did. Accordingly, when the school which Plaintiff's son was attending sought to perform an evaluation to test for possible disabilities, Plaintiff objected, but his ex-wife consented. (Doc. # 1 at 3.)

         Subsequently, the school district informed Plaintiff that his ex-wife's consent alone was sufficient for the evaluation to be conducted without mediation. (Doc. # 1 at 8.) Therefore, Plaintiff filed a due process complaint with the Colorado Department of Education Exceptional Services Unit, opposing the school district's determination denying mediation. The matter was referred to the State of Colorado Office of Administrative Courts. (Doc. # 15 at 2.) The parties to the matter were Plaintiff and Mesa County Valley School District No. 51 (“the District”). (Doc. # 1 at 10.) Defendant was not a party.

         On May 3, 2018, the ALJ issued a decision granting the District's Motion to Dismiss. (Id. at 13.) Specifically, the ALJ determined that Plaintiff

may not use the due process complaint procedures to overcome the Student's mother's consent for the evaluation. Because both [Plaintiff] and the Student's mother share equally in the Student's educational decision-making, the District does not need the consent of both parents in order to perform the evaluation. The District may proceed using the written consent it obtained from the Student's mother.

(Id.) Additionally, the ALJ advised Plaintiff of his appellate rights.

         As a result, Plaintiff filed the instant action, seeking reversal of the ALJ's decision. (Id. at 6.) Plaintiff named the Colorado Department of Education Exceptional Services Unit as the only defendant. Plaintiff did not name the District as a defendant, as he did below.

         On August 30, 2018, Defendant filed a Motion to Dismiss, which was fully briefed. (Doc. ## 8, 10, 11.) This Court referred the Motion to Magistrate Judge Gallagher. (Doc. # 9.) Accordingly, the magistrate judge issued a Recommendation (Doc. # 15) which concluded that Defendant's Motion should be granted.

         II. LEGAL STANDARDS

         A. REVIEWING AN OBJECTION TO A MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S RECOMMENDATION

         When a magistrate judge issues a recommendation on a dispositive matter, Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b)(3) requires that the district judge “determine denovo any part of the magistrate judge's [recommended] disposition that has been properly objected to.” An objection is properly made if it is both timely and specific. United States v. One Parcel of Real Property Known As 2121 East 30th Street, 73 F.3d 1057, 1059 (10th Cir. 1996). In conducting its review, “[t]he district judge may accept, reject, or modify the ...


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