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Oskowis v. Sedona Oak-Creek Unified School District #9

United States District Court, D. Arizona

June 21, 2018

Matthew Oskowis, Plaintiff,
Sedona Oak-Creek Unified School District #9, et al., Defendants.


          Douglas L. Rayes United States District Judge

         At issue is Defendants Sedona Oak-Creek Unified School District #9 (“the District”), David D. Lykins, Scott Keller, and Tiffany Wilson's motion for judgment on the pleadings, which is fully briefed. (Docs. 16, 18, 20.) Neither party requested oral argument. For the following reasons, Defendants' motion is granted.

         I. Background[1]

         Plaintiff Matthew Oskowis' son, E.O., is severely autistic. (Doc. 1 ¶ 59.) As such, he is a child with a disability as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (“IDEA”). 20 U.S.C. § 1401(3)(A). Under IDEA, the District has a duty to provide E.O. with a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”). Id. § 1401(9). This FAPE is implemented through an “individualized education program” (“IEP”), a written statement detailing how a school district intends to tailor public education to a disabled child's needs. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d). E.O.'s IEP provides for daily bus transportation to and from school. (Doc. 18 at 4-5.)

         In November 2015, Plaintiff noticed that E.O.'s school bus was arriving at his home for pickup after the scheduled start of the school day. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 50-51.) Upon further investigation, Plaintiff discovered E.O.'s bus was regularly arriving at school up to an hour late because of a circuitous service route that picked up and dropped off high school students before dropping off E.O. and his classmates. (¶¶ 52-54.) Plaintiff also discovered that the District was aware of the issue but had been reluctant to fix it. (¶ 53.) The tardiness, beginning in at least August 2015, negatively impacted E.O.'s education by reducing instructional time. (¶ 31.) In late November, Plaintiff shared his concerns with the District, which then adjusted the route allowing E.O. to arrive at school on time for the remainder of the school year. (¶ 58.)

         In September 2017, Plaintiff brought this action individually and on behalf of E.O., alleging claims against Defendants under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of IDEA, § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), and the equal protection guarantees of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendants now seek judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c).

         II. Legal Standard

         A motion for judgment on the pleadings “is properly granted when, taking all the allegations in the non-moving party's pleadings as true, the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fajardo v. Cty. of L.A., 179 F.3d 698, 699 (9th Cir. 1999). “Rule 12(c) is ‘functionally identical' to Rule 12(b)(6) and . . . ‘the same standard of review' applies to motions brought under either rule.” Cafasso v. Gen. Dynamics C4 Sys., 637 F.3d 1047, 1054 n.4 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting Dworkin v. Hustler Magazine Inc., 867 F.2d 1188, 1192 (9th Cir. 1989)). Thus, a motion for judgment on the pleadings should not be granted if the complaint contains “sufficient factual matter, accepted as true, to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).

         III. Discussion

         Preliminarily, Plaintiff suggests in his response brief that, in addition to his claims under § 1983, he intended to bring claims directly under the remedial schemes for IDEA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the ADA. (Doc. 18 at 5.) The Court disagrees. Fairly read, Plaintiff's complaint states claims under § 1983 only. The Court therefore will analyze Defendants' motion with respect to the claims Plaintiff actually alleged, and will address Plaintiff's proposed claims in the context of his request for leave to amend.

         Section 1983 creates a cause of action against any person who, under color of state law, deprives another of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Section 1983 is not a source of substantive rights but merely a method for vindicating federal rights established elsewhere. Graham v. Connor, 490 U.S. 386, 393-94 (1989). To state a claim under § 1983, a plaintiff must allege “(1) that a right secured by the Constitution or the laws of the United States was violated, and (2) that the alleged violation was committed by a person acting under color of State law.” Long v. Cty. of L.A., 442 F.3d 1178, 1185 (9th Cir. 2006).

         Here, Plaintiff seeks to hold the District and individually named defendants liable under § 1983 for violating IDEA, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Equal Protection Clause. (Doc. 1 ¶¶ 62-69.) Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment on the pleadings for two reasons: (1) Plaintiff lacks standing to assert a Fourteenth Amendment violation on E.O.'s behalf and (2) § 1983 cannot be used to address violations of IDEA, the ADA, and the Rehabilitation Act because each statute includes a comprehensive remedial scheme. The Court agrees.

         A. Fourteenth Amendment

         At the outset, Plaintiff may not bring a vicarious Fourteenth Amendment claim for injuries suffered by E.O. Plaintiff has not asserted violations of his own constitutional rights and E.O.'s claims are “personal and cannot be asserted vicariously.” Johns v. Ctyof San Diego, 114 F.3d 874, 876 (9th Cir. 1997). Plaintiff may bring a Fourteenth Amendment claim on E.O.'s behalf as a legal guardian under Fed R. Civ. P. 17(c). Plaintiff, however, may not represent E.O. pro se. Johns, 114 F.3d at 877; see also Buran v. Riggs, 5 F.Supp.3d 1212 (D. Nev. 2014) (holding that a father could not bring a ยง 1983 action against a school district alleging violation of the Equal Protection clause on his minor son's behalf). Plaintiff's own ...

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