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Bradyn S. v. Waxahachie Independent School District

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

August 16, 2019

BRADYN S., B/N/F JUSTIN & MEGAN S., Plaintiff,
WAXAHACHIE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT; CARRIE KAZDA, Individually and in her Official Capacity; DERRICK YOUNG, Individually and in his Official Capacity; and MIKE LEWIS, Individually and his Official Capacity, Defendants.



         Before the court are Defendant Waxahachie Independent School District's Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 15), filed November 19, 2018; Plaintiff's Response to Defendant Waxahachie Independent School District's Brief in Support of its Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 20), filed December 10, 2018; and Defendant Waxahachie Independent School District's Reply Brief in Support of its Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 24), filed December 26, 2018.

         After carefully considering the motion, briefs, record, and applicable law, the court grants Defendant Waxahachie Independent School District's Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Original Complaint (Doc. 15); dismisses with prejudice Plaintiff's claims asserted pursuant to the Rehabilitation Act and Americans with Disabilities Act insofar as they rely on a hostile environment theory and dismisses without prejudice these claims insofar as they rely on an intentional discrimination theory; and grants Plaintiff's request to replead the intentional discrimination claim but denies his request to replead the hostile environment claim.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         On October 15, 2018, Plaintiff Bradyn S. (“Plaintiff” or “Bradyn S.”), a minor, through his parents Justin & Megan S., filed the Original Complaint (“Complaint”) asserting claims against Defendant Waxahachie Independent School District (“Defendant” or “WISD”) pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (“RA”), and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).[1] Plaintiff's claims relate to the alleged failure of WISD to design an alternative education setting that was tailored to his special needs and sufficiently addressed his behavioral issues. Pl.'s Original Compl., Doc. 1 at 4-8. On November 19, 2018, WISD filed its Motion for Partial Dismissal of Plaintiff's Complaint, seeking dismissal of the ADA and RA claims.

         Plaintiff's ADA and RA disability-based discrimination claims are based on allegations that WISD denied him equal access to educational services and subjected him to a hostile environment.[2] Pl.'s Original Compl., Doc. 1 at 13-14. These claims arise from the following factual allegations set forth in the Complaint.

         Bradyn S. began attending WISD[3] in August 2013. Pl.'s Original Compl., Doc. 1 at 4, ¶ 4.1. In October 2013, WISD determined that Bradyn S. was a student with autism and a speech impairment who qualified for special education services pursuant to the IDEA. Id. Bradyn S. originally attended Shackleford Elementary, during which time he exhibited “a number of behavioral issues and was move[d] to a self-contained class where he received one-on-one instruction.” Id. He transferred to Felty Elementary for the 2014-2015 school year, during which time “a number of documented incidents of violent behavioral outbursts” occurred. Id.

         The majority of the alleged incidents related to his ADA and RA claims occurred during the 2016-2017 school year at Felty Elementary. Between August 22, 2016, and October 11, 2016, Bradyn S. “engaged in at least [nine] serious documented behavioral incidents[, ] including attempting to stab another student with a pencil, slapping another student with a ruler, hitting a staff member, hitting students, and spitting in another students face.” Id., ¶ 4.2. On September 28, 2016, Bradyn S. caused an incident that required the staff to restrain him, and “a use of restraint form was placed in his file.” Id. During another one of these nine behavioral incidents, a classroom had to be evacuated. Id.

         In October 2016, WISD conducted a three-year reevaluation of Bradyn S., in which the district's licensed specialist in school psychology determined that his behavior was “improving” and that his behavior was not impairing his learning or that of others. Id., ¶ 4.3. These records “do not indicate that the [specialist] considered the full history of severe incidents [that] had occurred in the Fall 2016 semester, the classroom evacuation, or the restraint report.” Id.

         On October 11, 2016, the ARD[4] committee held an annual meeting to discuss Bradyn S.'s educational needs in light of his disability. “The behavior specialist who works with [Bradyn S.] was absent from this ARD meeting.” Id. at 5, ¶ 4.4. Principal Carrie Kazda (“Kazda”) testified that the behavioral specialist was not called “because only one behavioral incident had occurred that school year, ” which Bradyn S. contends “demonstrate[ed] a lack of awareness of the at least nine severe behavioral incidents that had occurred to that point[.]” Id. The exhibits admitted at the hearing included Bradyn S.'s disciplinary records, the use of restraint forms, and his “behavioral calendar[5].” At the conclusion of the hearing, the ARD committee determined that Bradyn S. “continued to be found eligible for special education services for autism and a speech/language impairment, but his behavior was not impeding his learning or that of others, and he did not requirement a Behavior Intervention Plan (“BIP”). Id. at 4-5, ¶ 4.4.

         In February 2017, “major disciplinary events occurred” on the following dates: February 8, 9, 15, 16, and 27. Id. at 5, ¶ 4.5. Each incident involved either self-harm, harm to students, harm to staff, or a combination of the three. Id. Bradyn S.'s parents initiated a conference with the staff on March 3, 2017, and requested a Functional Behavior Analysis (“FBA”) and a BIP. Id. An officer at the hearing informed Bradyn S.'s parents that the district had “initiated a request for a FBA on February 28, 2017, ” but Bradyn S. alleges that this contention was likely false because consent paperwork to perform the FBA was not “ready to give” to Bradyn S.'s parents at the meeting on March 3, 2017. Id.

         On February 13, 2017, the school changed Bradyn S.'s classroom placement from one receiving instruction at a third to fifth educational level, to one receiving instruction at a kindergarten to second grade educational level. Id. at 5, ¶ 4.6. Bradyn S. contends that this change was made without giving prior notice to his parents or holding a ARD meeting “as is required by IDEA's procedural safeguards.” Id. at 6, ¶ 4.6. Bradyn S. alleges that his parents received notice of his new class placement on March 3, 2017. Id. He alleges that his former classroom teacher did not provide his Individualized Education Program (“IEP”)[6] to his new teacher after the change of placement. Id., ¶ 4.8.

         On March 3, 2017, Bradyn S. allegedly engaged in four behavioral incidents documented by WISD, in which he attacked another student. Id., ¶ 4.9. He contends, “There appears to have been no major efforts by the staff to intervene in this behavioral outburst and the child's parents were not contacted.” Id. The incidents culminated “in a major incident in which[, ] after continuing to attack students and staff, [Bradyn S.'s] classroom was evacuated.” Id. A teacher called the Waxahachie Police Department and informed it that this type of incident had occurred “many times.” Id. Bradyn S. was eight-years old at the time. Id. Officer Derrick Young (“Young”) arrived at the classroom, “took [Bradyn S.] to the ground, pinned him to the ground, and restrained his hands [] while the child screamed in agony and frustration for several minutes.” Id. Kazda “participated in the restraint of the child.” Id. At some point afterwards, Lieutenant Mike Lewis (“Lewis”) also arrived on scene. Id. at 12, ¶ 7.4. Neither Kazda nor the teacher who called the police told the officers that Bradyn S. was an autistic child with a speech impairment, “even while the police attempted to ask the child questions [that] continued to exacerbate his already elevated emotional state.” Id. at 6-7, ¶ 4.9. The officers “then elicited that they were dealing with a special needs child.” Id. at 7, ¶ 4.9. Bradyn S. was handcuffed and questioned further by the police. Id.

         Following this incident, the school did not conduct a Manifestation Determination Review (“MDR”) specific to this incident “to determine whether the behavior in question was a manifestation of the [s]tudent's disabilities, and there was not an FBA or BIP conducted to address this or prior incidents.” Id. On March 6, 2017, Bradyn S. alleges that his parent submitted a written request for an ARD review, having previously made informal requests. Id., ¶ 4.10. Bradyn S. alleges that Kazda “had previously asked [the] parent to delay the ARD so that additional observation could be done of the student” in his new class assignment. Id.

         On March 16, 2017, Bradyn S. contends that he was hospitalized at the Dallas Behavioral Healthcare Hospital for eight days and treated for suicidal ideation and aggression. Id., ¶ 4.11.

         On April 19, 2017, Bradyn S. was involved in “another serious behavioral incident.” Id., ¶ 4.12. WISD advised his parents that this incident violated its Student Code of Conduct, but it would not suspend Bradyn S. “because of a desire to not reinforce his behavior by providing his desired outcome.” Id. WISD, rather, assigned Bradyn S. to “an interim alternative education setting (“IAES”) in a self-contained special education classroom with two adults and no other students.” Id. On May 1, 2017, the school conducted an MDR ...

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