United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. FITZWATER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Highland Park Independent School District
(“HPISD”) moves under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6) to
dismiss plaintiff's claims under § 504 of the
Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794, and 42 U.S.C.
§ 1983. For the reasons that follow, the court grants
the motion in part and denies it in part, and grants
plaintiff leave to replead.
an action by plaintiff R ___ S ___ (“RS”),
and through his next friend Ruth B, seeking relief from
defendant HPISD under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.
(“IDEA”); § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act;
and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. RS is a 13 year-old student with
disabilities who attended school in HPISD from the spring of
2012 through the spring of 2015. While he was enrolled, he
received special education services from HPISD.
alleges that several incidents at HPISD compromised his
safety and ability to progress in his education. According to
the amended complaint, RS was left in dried feces on multiple
occasions; HPISD staff failed to address pressure sores
properly; he fell at least five times because HPISD personnel
failed to implement necessary protocols; HPISD staff used
improper equipment, such as chairs without appropriate locks,
or equipment that RS had outgrown; RS did not receive
appropriate educational services; and HPISD failed to inform
or collaborate with RS's parents regarding these issues
and his education. RS asserts that HPISD was indifferent to
these issues, suggesting that they “were simply an
inevitable occurrence for a child such as [RS].” Am
Compl. ¶ 12. In 2015 RS's parents removed him from
filed an administrative due process complaint in April 2015.
The administrative hearing officer (“AHO”) denied
RS's requested relief in July 2016. RS then filed suit in
this court pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i), appealing
the AHO's decision and raising claims under the IDEA and
§ 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and for municipal
liability under § 1983. HPISD moved under Rule 12(b)(6)
to dismiss RS's § 504 and § 1983 claims in his
complaint. RS then filed an amended complaint, and
HPISD again moves to dismiss the § 504 and § 1983
claims. RS opposes the motion.
Rule 12(b)(6), the court evaluates the pleadings by
“accept[ing] ‘all well-pleaded facts as true,
viewing them in the light most favorable to the
plaintiff.'” In re Katrina Canal Breaches
Litig., 495 F.3d 191, 205 (5th Cir. 2007) (quoting
Martin K. Eby Constr. Co. v. Dall. Area Rapid
Transit, 369 F.3d 464, 467 (5th Cir. 2004)). To survive
this motion to dismiss, RS must allege enough facts “to
state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570
(2007). “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant[s] [are]
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). “The plausibility
standard is not akin to a ‘probability requirement,
' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a
defendant has acted unlawfully.” Id.; see
also Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (“Factual
allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above
the speculative level [.]”). “[W]here the
well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than
the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged-but it has not ‘show[n]'-‘that the
pleader is entitled to relief.'” Iqbal,
556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Rule 8(a)(2)). Furthermore, under
Rule 8(a)(2), a pleading must contain “a short and
plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” Although “the pleading
standard Rule 8 announces does not require ‘detailed
factual allegations, '” it demands more than
“‘labels and conclusions.'”
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (quoting Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555). And “‘a formulaic recitation of
the elements of a cause of action will not do.'”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555).
first moves to dismiss RS's claim under § 504 of the
504 of the Rehabilitation Act mandates that “[n]o
otherwise qualified individual with a disability . . . shall,
solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from
the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be
subjected to discrimination under any program or activity
receiving Federal financial assistance[.]” 29 U.S.C.
§ 794(a). In the educational context, “[a] cause
of action is stated under § 504 when it is alleged that
a school district has refused to provide reasonable
accommodations for the handicapped plaintiff to receive the
full benefits of the school program.” D.A. ex
rel Latasha A. v. Hous. Indep. Sch. Dist., 629 F.3d
450, 454 (5th Cir. 2010) (emphasis in original) (quoting
Marvin H. v. Austin Indep. Sch. Dist., 714 F.2d
1348, 1356 (5th Cir. 1983)). The term “refusal”
requires “something more than a mere failure to provide
[a] ‘free appropriate education, '” as
required by law. Id. (quoting Monahan v.
Nebraska, 687 F.2d 1164, 1170 (8th Cir. 1982)). Rather,
“facts creating an inference of professional bad faith
or gross misjudgment are necessary to substantiate a cause of
action for intentional discrimination under § 504 . . .
against a school district predicated on a disagreement over
compliance with IDEA.” Id. at 455.
contends that the “professional bad faith or gross
misjudgment” standard is equivalent to the
“deliberate indifference” standard courts apply
to claims under Title IX. The Fifth Circuit has stated
“[t]here is no ‘deliberate indifference'
standard applicable to public entities for purposes of the .
. . [Rehabilitation Act].” Delano-Pyle v. Victoria
Cnty., Tex., 302 F.3d 567, 575 (5th Cir. 2002); but
see Estate of Lance v. Lewisville Indep. Sch. Dist., 743
F.3d 983, 995-96 (5th Cir. 2014) (applying deliberate
indifference standard to § 504 claim in context of
student-on-student harassment). Even so, because applying a
deliberate indifference standard does not affect the result
that the court reaches concerning RS's § 504 claim,
the court will assume arguendo that the deliberate
indifference standard applies. See Liese v. Indian River
Cnty. Hosp. Dist., 701 F.3d 334, 345 (11th Cir. 2012)
(compiling cases, noting that almost every circuit has agreed
with position taken here by HPISD, but citing contrary Fifth
deliberate indifference standard is a high one.”
Doe ex rel Doe v. Dall. Indep. Sch. Dist.,
220 F.3d 380, 384 (5th Cir. 2000) (quoting Doe ex
rel Doe v. Dall. Indep Sch. Dist., 153 F.3d 211, 219
(5th Cir. 1998) (“Doe I”)). Deliberate
indifference occurs when the response to an ...