United States District Court, D. Colorado
LISA M. MATTHEWS, and MARK P. MATTHEWS, Plaintiffs,
DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT REl, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER ON MOTION TO DISMISS
S. Krieger Chief United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on the Defendant's
Motion to Dismiss (# 6), the Plaintiffs'
response (# 8), and the Defendant's
reply (# 9); and the Plaintiffs' Motion
for Leave to File a Surreply (## 10,
11). For the reasons that follow, the Motion
to Dismiss is granted and the Motion for Leave to File a
Surreply is denied.
Court has jurisdiction over an appeal from a final decision
of the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts under 20
U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(A).
Plaintiffs are the parent and stepparent (the Parents) of
J.U.,  who was a student at Legend High School in
Parker, Colorado, part of Defendant Douglas County School
District. The relevant substantive facts are set forth in the
Court's opinion in No. 16-CV-0717, Matthews v.
Douglas County School District (Matthews I), a
prior lawsuit between the parties. In that case, the Parents
challenged the District's provision of a free appropriate
public education for J.U. This case arises from a second
due-process complaint relating to J.U.'s education, which
urged many of the same grievances as in the first case.
substance of the second due-process complaint is unimportant
for purposes of this order because the state-agency
administrative law judge (ALJ) dismissed the complaint on
procedural grounds. Specifically, the ALJ found that
dismissal was appropriate because the Parents had not
adequately participated in a regulatory resolution process.
The Parents filed the instant Complaint (#
1) in this Court seeking judicial review of the
ALJ's decision. The District has moved to dismiss
(# 6) the Complaint because the Parents did
not fully exhaust their administrative remedies before the
to subject-matter jurisdiction under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(1) generally take one of two forms: facial
attacks or factual attacks. Ruiz v. McDonnell, 299
F.3d 1173, 1180 (10th Cir. 2002). A facial attack on the
complaint's allegations as to subject-matter jurisdiction
questions the sufficiency of a complaint. Id. In
reviewing a facial attack on the complaint, the allegations
in the complaint as accepted as true. Id. In a
factual attack, the movant goes beyond the allegations in the
complaint and challenges the facts upon which subject-matter
jurisdiction depends; therefore, a court must look beyond the
complaint and has wide discretion to allow documentary and
even testimonial evidence to resolve disputed jurisdictional
facts. Sizova v. Nat'l Inst. of Standards &
Tech., 282 F.3d 1320, 1324 (10th Cir. 2002). The
District does not dispute any of the facts alleged and
therefore apparently asserts only a facial challenge to the
receiving federal funds for education must provide a free
appropriate public education (FAPE) to all eligible children.
20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(1). The governing statute for these
issues is the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act
(IDEA), which creates a mandatory administrative framework
for resolution of disputes between parents and school
districts: parents with complaints relating to the
child's education or the provision of a FAPE are entitled
to an “impartial due process hearing” conducted
by the state agency. Carroll v. Lawton Indep. Sch. Dist.
No. 8, 805 F.3d 1222, 1227 (10th Cir. 2015) (quoting 20
U.S.C. § 1415(b)(6)(A), (f)(1)(A)). Parents may appeal
from state administrative decisions to this Court, but before
filing an action, they must exhaust administrative remedies.
20 U.S.C. § 1415(g)(1); Carroll, 805 F.3d at
1227 (quoting 20 U.S.C. § 1415(l)). In the
Tenth Circuit, the question of whether exhaustion is required
is “whether the plaintiff has alleged injuries that
could be redressed to any degree by the IDEA's
administrative procedures and remedies.” Id.
If so, the plaintiff must exhaust her remedies.
District contends that the Parents were required to but
failed to exhaust their administrative remedies before filing
the Complaint in this matter. Because the Parents appeal from
an ALJ decision which ordinarily would be subject to judicial
review, the Court understands the District to argue that the
allegations in the Complaint exceed the scope of the
decision, the ALJ granted the District's motion to
dismiss the Parents' due-process complaint. The ALJ found
that the Parents failed to participate in the resolution
process required by 34 C.F.R. § 300.510, which creates a
process in which school districts must reach out to parents
who have filed due-process complaints to engage in a
resolution meeting, where they discuss their differences in
an effort to resolve the dispute. The resolution period is 30
days long, and if the school district cannot obtain
parents' participation after reasonable efforts, it may
move to dismiss the complaint.
ALJ's determination was based upon the District's
presentation of 16 exhibits detailing its efforts to schedule
the resolution meeting with the Parents and the Parents
refusal to participate. It appears that the parties were
close to scheduling a meeting when Mr. Matthews refused to
meet until the District “properly” answered the
Parents' due-process complaint. It is unclear what was
purportedly improper about the District's answer, but the
ALJ found that there is no requirement that the District
answer the due-process complaint prior to scheduling or
holding a resolution meeting. On these facts, the ...