United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO DISMISS
L. ROBART United States District Judge.
the court is Defendant Seattle School District's
(“the District”) motion to dismiss this case as
moot. (Mot. (Dkt. # 27).) Plaintiffs N.E. and his parents
C.E. and P.E. (“the Parents”) (collectively,
“Plaintiffs”) oppose the District's motion.
(Resp. (Dkt. # 29).) The court has considered the
District's motion, the parties' submissions in
support of and opposition to the motion, the relevant
portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully
advised,  the court grants the District's motion
for the reasons set forth below.
October 16, 2015, Plaintiffs filed this interlocutory appeal
from an administrative law judge's (“ALJ”)
decision regarding N.E.'s “stay-put”
placement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education
Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et
seq. (See Compl. (Dkt. # 1) ¶ 1; 1st
Hruska Decl. (Dkt. # 3) ¶ 7, Ex. 7 (“ALJ
a male child who attended third grade at Newport Heights
Elementary School in the Bellevue School District (“the
BSD”) for most of the 2014-15 school year.
(See ALJ Decision at 2.) During most of that year
and in the prior years, N.E.'s individual education plan
(“IEP”) placed him in general education classes
with paraeducator support (“general classes”) for
the majority of the school day. (See id.; 1st C.E.
Decl. (Dkt. # 4) ¶ 1.) The most recent IEP reflecting
that arrangement dates from December 2014 (“the
December 2014 IEP”). (See ALJ Decision at 2;
1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1 (“12/14 IEP”).)
had significant difficulties during the 2014-15 school year.
(See ALJ Decision at 2; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 3.)
Certain BSD officials and teachers, the Parents, and their
respective counsel attended an IEP meeting on May 26, 2015.
(See ALJ Decision at 2; 1st Hruska Decl. ¶ 5,
Ex. 4 at 10-13 (“Landwehr Decl.”) ¶ 5.) At
the meeting, the BSD proposed a new IEP that would place N.E.
in specialized classes for students with behavioral and
emotional disorders (“separate classes”).
(See Landwehr Decl. ¶ 5; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶
3.) The Parents objected to this proposal. (See ALJ
Decision at 2; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 3; Landwehr Decl. ¶
meeting, BSD officials and the Parents also discussed where
to place N.E. for the remainder of the school year.
(See ALJ Decision at 2.) When the meeting occurred,
N.E. was subject to an emergency expulsion, and the Parents
were uncomfortable with N.E. returning to Newport Heights
Elementary. (See id.; Landwehr Decl. ¶ 6.) The
BSD and the Parents agreed that N.E. would finish the final
weeks of the 2014-15 school year at a different school in the
district. (See ALJ Decision at 2.) At that school,
N.E. would spend the majority of the day in a one-on-two
setting that included N.E., a teacher, and a paraeducator,
but no other students (“individual classes”).
(See id.; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 4; Landwehr Decl.
later, on May 27, 2015, the BSD produced a final IEP for N.E.
(“the May 2015 IEP”). (See ALJ Decision
at 2; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 5, Ex. 2 (“5/15
IEP”).) The May 2015 IEP had two stages: (1) N.E. would
finish the end of the 2014-15 school year in the agreed-upon
individual classes; and (2) N.E. would be placed in separate
classes at the start of the 2015-16 school year.
(See ALJ Decision at 2-3; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 5;
5/15 IEP at 15-16.) The Parents did not file an
administrative due process challenge to the May 2015 IEP and
instead allowed N.E. to continue attending the individual
classes until the school year ended on June 22, 2015.
(See ALJ Decision at 2-3; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶ 7.)
Parents and N.E. moved to Seattle in the summer of 2015 and
contacted the District to enroll N.E. for the 2015-16 school
year. (See ALJ Decision at 3; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶
8; Landwehr Decl. ¶ 7.) The Parents requested that the
District place N.E. in classes similar to the individual
classes N.E. had attended during the final part of the prior
school year. (See ALJ Decision at 3; Landwehr Decl.
¶ 7.) The District reviewed N.E.'s records and
decided to place him in separate classes similar to those
contemplated in the second part of the BSD's May 2015
IEP. (See ALJ Decision at 3; 1st C.E. Decl. ¶
8; Landwehr Decl. ¶ 7.)
Parents objected and filed an administrative due process
challenge to the District's decision. (See ALJ
Decision at 3; Hruska Decl. ¶ 2, Ex. 1 (“DP
Hearing Req.”)); 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f). At the same
time, the Parents filed a motion for “stay put, ”
arguing that N.E.'s stay-put placement is his placement
in general classes as described in the December 2014 IEP.
(See ALJ Decision at 3; DP Hearing Req. at 3; 1st
Hruska Decl. ¶ 3, Ex. 2 (“Stay-Put Mot.”));
20 U.S.C. § 1415(j) (stating that pending a due process
challenge, “the child shall remain in the then-current
educational placement of the child”). The District
contended that the separate classes described in the May 2015
IEP represented the appropriate stay-put placement for N.E.
(See ALJ Decision at 3; 1st Hruska Decl.
¶¶ 4-6, Exs. 3-5.) Following testimony and oral
argument on the stay-put motion, the ALJ sided with the
District and concluded that separate classes were N.E.'s
stay-put placement. (See ALJ Decision at 1, 4.)
interlocutory appeal seeks reversal of the ALJ's stay-put
decision and a declaration that the District is required to
place N.E. in a general education setting consistent with his
December 2014 IEP pending the outcome of Plaintiffs' due
process challenge to the District's intended placement.
(Compl. at 5.) Upon filing this appeal, Plaintiffs sought a
temporary restraining order (“TRO”) and
preliminary injunction ordering the District to place N.E. in
general classes pending the due process challenge.
(See Compl.; TRO Mot. (Dkt. # 2); 10/27/15 Order
(Dkt. # 11) at 5.) The court denied Plaintiffs' motion
because the court found no support for Plaintiffs' theory
that the court could “ignore any unrealized stages of a
multi-stage IEP or treat such stages as distinct IEPs.”
(10/27/15 Order at 9.)
appealed the court's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court
of Appeals. (See Not. of Appeal (Dkt. # 15).) On
November 11, 2016, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the court's
denial of the TRO and preliminary injunction. See N.E. by
and through C.E. & P.E. v. Seattle Sch. Dist., 842
F.3d 1093, 1098 (9th Cir. 2016) (holding that “[s]tage
two of the May 2015 IEP . . . was N.E.'s stay-put
placement”). On February 3, 2017, the Ninth Circuit
issued its formal mandate, returning the case to this
court's jurisdiction. (Mandate (Dkt. # 23).)
parties took no further action in this matter after the Ninth
Circuit issued its mandate until the court ordered Plaintiffs
to show cause why the case should not be dismissed as moot.
(3/9/17 OSC (Dkt. # 24) at 5.) In Plaintiffs' response to
the court, they contended that an actual controversy
regarding N.E's educational placement continues to exist.
(Resp. to OSC (Dkt. # 25) at 2.) ...