United States District Court, D. Nevada
MIRANDA M. DU UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Defendant Lyon County School District's
(“Defendant” or “LCSD”) Motion for
Summary Judgment (“Motion”) (ECF No. 32), Motion
on Plaintiff's Appeal of Administrative Decisions of
Special Education Review Officers (“Motion to
Affirm”) (ECF No. 33), and Motion to Strike
Plaintiff's Supplementary Pleading (“Motion to
Strike”) (ECF No. 38). The Court has reviewed
Plaintiff's response to Defendant's Motion and Motion
to Affirm (ECF No. 35) and Defendant's reply (ECF No. 36)
as well as all accompanying exhibits. Plaintiff also filed a
supplementary pleading (ECF No. 37) further opposing
Defendant's Motion and Motion to Affirm almost a month
after filing her initial response, which Defendant has now
moved to strike. Because Plaintiff filed this document
without leave of court, the Court declines to consider it in
ruling on Defendant's Motion and Motion to Affirm and
will strike the supplement.
reasons discussed below, Defendant's Motion is granted in
part and denied in part but without prejudice as to Count 4.
Defendant's Motion to Affirm is denied without prejudice.
Defendant's Motion to Strike is granted. The Clerk is
instructed to strike Plaintiff's supplementary pleading
(ECF No. 37).
Terria McKnight, proceeding pro se, asserts claims on behalf
of her son, Jarel (“Student”), against
LCSD. Plaintiff filed her initial complaint on
January 26, 2016.(ECF No. 4.) With leave of court, she filed
her first amended complaint (“FAC”) (ECF No. 17)
on June 16, 2016. (ECF No. 16.)
attends Yerington Elementary School in the Lyon County School
District. The claims in this case primarily concern
Student's individualized education program
(“IEP”) for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school
years and the process by which these plans were
developed. During the 2014-2015 school year, Student was
eligible for special education and related services based on
a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Under the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(“IDEA”), Student is entitled to an IEP that
complies with the requirements of a free appropriate public
education (“FAPE”) under the statute. See
M.L. v. Fed. Way Sch. Dist., 394 F.3d 634, 642 (9th Cir.
2005). An IEP is an educational program designed specifically
for a student with a disability. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d).
FAPE is also required under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973 (“Section 504” or
“Rehabilitation Act”), but the requirements for
FAPE under Section 504 are not identical to those under IDEA.
See Mark H. v Lemahieu, 513 F.3d 922, 933 (9th Cir.
2008). For instance, where a school adopts a valid IDEA IEP,
this is “sufficient but not necessary” to satisfy
Section 504's FAPE requirements. Id. (citing 34
C.F.R. § 104.33(b)(2)). Pursuant to IDEA, if a parent
believes her child's IEP is inappropriate, they may
request an impartial due process hearing. Schaffer ex
rel. Schaffer v. Weast, 546 U.S. 49, 51 (2005) (citing
20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)) (internal quotation marks removed).
Plaintiff filed a due process complaint for Student's
March, April, and May 2015 IEPs, which was administratively
exhausted by the time she filed suit on January 26, 2016.
asks for injunctive and compensatory relief as well as relief
for emotional distress, requesting damages in the amount of
$5, 952, 004.80. (ECF No. 17 at 27.) She also asks for a
declaratory judgment that LCSD violated her and Student's
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
purpose of summary judgment is to avoid unnecessary trials
when there is no dispute as to the facts before the court.
Nw. Motorcycle Ass'n v. U.S. Dep't of
Agric., 18 F.3d 1468, 1471 (9th Cir. 1994). Summary
judgment is appropriate when the pleadings, the discovery and
disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show
“there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and
that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317,
330 (1986). An issue is “genuine” if there is a
sufficient evidentiary basis on which a reasonable
fact-finder could find for the nonmoving party and a dispute
is “material” if it could affect the outcome of
the suit under the governing law. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986). Where
reasonable minds could differ on the material facts at issue,
however, summary judgment is not appropriate. See
id. at 250-51. “The amount of evidence necessary
to raise a genuine issue of material fact is enough ‘to
require a jury or judge to resolve the parties' differing
versions of the truth at trial.'” Aydin Corp.
v. Loral Corp., 718 F.2d 897, 902 (9th Cir. 1983)
(quoting First Nat'l Bank v. Cities Service Co.,
391 U.S. 253, 288-89 (1968)). In evaluating a summary
judgment motion, a court views all facts and draws all
inferences in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party. Kaiser Cement Corp. v. Fishbach & Moore,
Inc., 793 F.2d 1100, 1103 (9th Cir. 1986).
moving party bears the burden of showing that there are no
genuine issues of material fact. Zoslaw v. MCA Distrib.
Corp., 693 F.2d 870, 883 (9th Cir. 1982). “In
order to carry its burden of production, the moving party
must either produce evidence negating an essential element of
the nonmoving party's claim or defense or show that the
nonmoving party does not have enough evidence of an essential
element to carry its ultimate burden of persuasion at
trial.” Nissan Fire & Marine Ins. Co., Ltd v.
Fritz Cos., Inc., 210 F.3d 1099, 1102 (9th Cir. 2000).
Once the moving party satisfies Rule 56's requirements,
the burden shifts to the party resisting the motion to
“set forth specific facts showing that there is a
genuine issue for trial.” Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 256. The nonmoving party “may not rely on denials in
the pleadings but must produce specific evidence, through
affidavits or admissible discovery material, to show that the
dispute exists, ” Bhan v. NME Hosps., Inc.,
929 F.2d 1404, 1409 (9th Cir. 1991), and “must do more
than simply show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to
the material facts.” Orr v. Bank of Am.,
NT & SA, 285 F.3d 764, 783 (9th Cir. 2002)
(internal citations omitted). “The mere existence of a
scintilla of evidence in support of the plaintiff's
position will be insufficient.” Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252.
of the fact that the Supreme Court has “instructed the
federal courts to liberally construe the ‘inartful
pleading' of pro se litigants, ” Eldridge v.
Block, 832 F.2d 1132, 1137 (9th Cir. 1987) (citing
Boag v. MacDougall, 454 U.S. 364, 365 (1982) (per
curiam)), the Court will view Plaintiff's pleadings with
the appropriate degree of leniency.
of the FAC alleges that Plaintiff's and her son's
rights under the First, Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth
Amendments, and Article VI Section II of the Constitution
were violated. (ECF No. 17 at 14-15.) Preliminarily, there is
no Section II to Article VI of the United States
Constitution. Therefore, the Court only considers the First,
Fourth, Sixth, Eighth, and Ninth Amendment
contends that her First Amendment rights were violated when
“during the first hearing [she] was restricted from
giving testimony as to the facts of the case by not being
able to fully speak about the issues” and “during
[the] second hearing [she] was not allowed to quote laws that
she felt were relevant to the facts of the case.” (ECF
No. 17 at 14.) These claims appear to be against the hearing
officers, who are not named as defendants in this action.
Therefore, the Court grants summary judgment in favor of
Defendant on this claim.
contends that her and/or her son's Fourth Amendment
rights were violated when an autism specialist at LCSD
conducted an observation of Student without Plaintiff's
consent and also when LCSD permitted the local newspaper to
take Student's photo and post his personally identifiable
information in the paper without Plaintiff's consent.
(ECF No. 17 at 14-15.) The purpose of the Fourth Amendment is
to safeguard the privacy and security of individuals against
arbitrary invasions by government officials. Michigan v.
Tyler, 436 U.S. 499, 504 (1978) (internal citation
omitted). Because a newspaper employee took the photograph
(i.e., conducted the search/invaded Student and/or
Plaintiff's privacy), and there is no allegation that the
newspaper employee was a government official, the Fourth
Amendment does not apply to Plaintiff's claim about the
photograph. Regarding Plaintiff's claim concerning
observation of her son for educational purposes, because
Student had already qualified for FAPE (see ECF No.
17 at 4 (stating that the first IEP was implemented May 27,
2013)), the specialist's routine observation of Student
for purposes of evaluating Student does not fall within the
province of an unreasonable search under the Fourth
Amendment. Moreover, Plaintiff does not allege that her son
had a reasonable expectation of privacy concerning
evaluations by LCSD for his educational needs. Therefore, the
Court grants summary judgment in favor of Defendant on this
contends that her Sixth Amendment rights were violated
because she should have been informed as to the reason the
observation was conducted, because she was denied the ability
to confront witnesses during the first resolution meeting,
and because she was not presented with appropriate legal
information from LCSD that would have allowed her to obtain a
lawyer who specialized in education law. (See ECF
No. 17 at 15.) The Sixth Amendment applies only to criminal
prosecutions. U.S. Const. amend. VI (stating that the
provisions apply “in all criminal prosecutions”).
Therefore, summary judgment is granted in favor of Defendant
on this claim.
contends she was subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment when “the hearing
officer used a law from 1870 to say that nothing has to be
proven” so as to punish Plaintiff for filing her due
process complaint. (ECF No. 17 at 15.) The Eighth
Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual
punishment applies only to convicted prisoners. See,
e.g., Solem v. Helm, 463 U.S. 277, 284 (“The
[cruel and unusual punishment] clause prohibits not only
barbaric punishments, but also sentences that are
disproportionate to the crime committed”). Therefore,
as this is not a legally cognizable claim, the Court grants
summary judgment in favor of Defendant.
Plaintiff contends that under the Ninth Amendment LCSD denied
her son's right to an appropriate education. Plaintiff
cites no case law establishing that the Ninth Amendment
guarantees individuals a right to an appropriate education.
Moreover, the Ninth Amendment does not independently create a
constitutional right for purposes of stating a claim.
Schowengerdt v. United States, 944 F.2d 483, 490
(9th Cir. 1991) (citing Strandberg v. City of
Helena, 791 F.2d 744 (9th Cir. 1986)). Instead, the
Amendment is “simply a rule about how to read the
Constitution.” San Diego Cnty. Gun Rights Comm. v.
Reno, 98 F.3d 1121, 1125 (9th Cir. 1996) (internal
citation omitted). Therefore, as Plaintiff has not stated a
legally cognizable claim, summary judgment is granted to
Defendant on this claim.
Defendant's Motion is granted as to Count 1.