United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
Honorable Richard A. Jones United States District Judge
matter comes before the Court on Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss. Dkt. # 10. Plaintiffs oppose the
Motion. Dkt. # 13, 20. For the reasons set forth
below, the Court DENIES Defendants'
Motion to Dismiss. Dkt. # 10.
Layna Crofts and Jeremy Sanders, proceeding pro se,
seek judicial review of the final order of an administrative
law judge pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400 et seq.
(“IDEA”). Dkt. # 6. On October 19, 2017,
Defendants Issaquah School District, Melissa Madsen, and Ron
Thiele, filed a Motion to Dismiss Melissa Madsen and Ron
Thiele as defendants in this case. Dkt. # 10.
LEGAL STANDARD A. FRCP 12(b)(6)
Civ. P. 12(b)(6) permits a court to dismiss a complaint for
failure to state a claim. The rule requires the court to
assume the truth of the complaint's factual allegations
and credit all reasonable inferences arising from those
allegations. Sanders v. Brown, 504 F.3d 903, 910
(9th Cir. 2007). A court “need not accept as true
conclusory allegations that are contradicted by documents
referred to in the complaint.” Manzarek v. St. Paul
Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 519 F.3d 1025, 1031 (9th
Cir. 2008). The plaintiff must point to factual allegations
that “state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S.
544, 568 (2007). If the plaintiff succeeds, the complaint
avoids dismissal if there is “any set of facts
consistent with the allegations in the complaint” that
would entitle the plaintiff to relief. Id. at 563;
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009).
typically cannot consider evidence beyond the four corners of
the complaint, although it may rely on a document to which
the complaint refers if the document is central to the
party's claims and its authenticity is not in question.
Marder v. Lopez, 450 F.3d 445, 448 (9th Cir. 2006).
A court may also consider evidence subject to judicial
notice. United States v. Ritchie, 342 F.3d 903, 908
(9th Cir. 2003).
the IDEA, states are offered federal funds to assist in
education children with disabilities. In order to receive
federal financial assistance, the state must provide a
“free appropriate public education” (or
“FAPE”) to “all children with disabilities
residing in the State.” 20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(1)(A).
The responsibility of ensuring that disabled children receive
a FAPE under the IDEA lies with state education agencies. 20
U.S.C. § 1412(a)(11). A state education agency
distributes the funds it receives to a local education
agency, and the local education agency is then responsible
for providing appropriate education and services to the
disabled children. 20 U.S.C. § 1411(f)(2).
argue that Superintendent Ron Thiele and Executive Director
of Special Services Melissa Madsen, should be dismissed from
this case because they cannot be sued under the IDEA in their
individual capacities, and that suing them in their official
capacities is duplicative of the claim asserted against
Issaquah School District (the “District”),
because Mr. Thiele and Ms. Madsen are District employees. The
Court agrees with Defendants that to bring suit against Mr.
Thiele and Ms. Madsen in their official capacity would be
duplicative because they are also bringing suit against the
District. See Stanek v. St. Charles Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist.
No. 303, 783 F.3d 634, 644 (7th Cir. 2015); Everett
H. v. Dry Creek Joint Elementary Sch. Dist., 5 F.Supp.3d
1167, 1180 (E.D. Cal. 2014).
Court does not, however, agree with Defendants' assertion
that Mr. Thiele and Ms. Madsen cannot be sued under the IDEA
in their individual capacities. Very few courts have examined
the issue of whether the IDEA provides for individual
liability. Defendants cite to only one decision in this
district that held that individual defendants may not be sued
in their individual capacities under the IDEA. Blanchard
v. Morton Sch. Dist., No. CV 02-5101 FDB, 2006 WL
1075222, at *4 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 20, 2006), judgment
corrected, No. CV 02-5101 FDB, 2006 WL 1419381 (W.D.
Wash. May 19, 2006), and aff'd, 504 F.3d 771 (9th Cir.
2007), opinion amended and superseded, 509 F.3d 934
(9th Cir. 2007), and aff'd, 509 F.3d 934 (9th
Cir. 2007). The court in Blanchard dismissed the
relevant individual defendants in that case on the basis of
ineffective service of process, but commented that “an
additional basis for dismissal of the complaint against the
individual defendants is that these defendants may not be
sued in their individual capacities under the ADA, the
Rehabilitation Act or the IDEA because these statutes do not
provide for individual liability.” Blanchard,
2006 WL 1075222, at *2. While this decision was affirmed, the
Ninth Circuit specifically affirmed dismissal of the
individual defendants on the basis of ineffective service of
process, and stayed silent on the district court's
statement regarding their individual liability. Blanchard
v. Morton Sch. Dist., 260 Fed.Appx. 992, 993 (9th Cir.
do not cite to any binding legal authority that supports its
assertion and the Court has not found a decision from the
Ninth Circuit or any other circuit that states that school
district employees cannot be held individually liable under
the IDEA. See Stanek v. St. Charles Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist.
No. 303, 783 F.3d 634, 644 (7th Cir. 2015) (“We
have not found a decision from any circuit holding that
individual school employees cannot be personally liable for
violating IDEA.”). Defendants offer no other argument
supporting their argument that Plaintiffs have failed to
state a claim against Mr. Thiele and Ms. Madsen. Therefore,
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss is DENIED.