United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
KESHA R. HUDSON-HARRIS, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS OF THE CITY OF INDIANAPOLIS, Defendant.
ENTRY ON DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
WALTON PRATT, JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on a Motion for Judgment on the
Pleadings filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(c) by Defendant Board of School Commissioners of the City
of Indianapolis (“School Board”) (Filing No.
14). After her son experienced discipline and bullying
issues at public schools, pro se Plaintiff Kesha R.
Hudson-Harris (“Hudson-Harris”) removed her son
from the Indianapolis Public School (“IPS”)
system and tried to provide an education through an online
school. Hudson-Harris was dissatisfied with how the public
school administrators and teachers handled the discipline and
bullying issues and an individualized education plan, so she
initiated this lawsuit. The School Board filed an Answer to
Hudson-Harris's Complaint and then immediately filed a
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings, asserting that the
Court has no jurisdiction to hear the claim because
Hudson-Harris did not pursue and exhaust her administrative
remedies. For the following reasons, the School Board's
Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is
GRANTED without prejudice.
January 28, 2016, Hudson-Harris initiated this lawsuit by
filing a standard, fill-in-the-blank “Complaint Form,
” used by many pro se plaintiffs (Filing
No. 1). She listed as defendants George H. Fisher IPS
School 93, Principal Amanda Pickrell, and a teacher, Mrs.
Nonte. She alleged that the principal and teacher were
“at fault” and that she had requested that her
son be tested for academic needs while she was at a
“backyard barbeque” with the principal
(Filing No. 1 at 2). Hudson-Harris also alleged that
the previous principal had been asked to test her son based
on his many impairments. She asserted that the principal
“said she would see to it [that her son] went through
two semesters without this I.E.P.” Id.
standard form Complaint, Hudson-Harris alleged that her son
was continuously placed with a particular teacher who was
wrongfully and excessively disciplining her son. This teacher
was isolating and traumatizing him. As a result,
Hudson-Harris's son was stressed and suffered emotional
damages (Filing No. 1 at 3). He was administratively
transferred to IPS School 94, where he was later bullied, and
the principal at School 94 did not take the bullying policy
seriously. Id. Hudson-Harris felt she had no choice
but to pull her son out of public school and try an online
school until he could return to a traditional school setting.
Id. She alleged that her lawsuit was brought under
federal law and state law, and she requested a bench trial.
Id. at 4-5.
Court's Entry of February 2, 2016, the Court instructed
Hudson-Harris to supplement her Complaint by reporting what
specific constitutional, statutory, or other
federally-protected rights the Defendants were alleged to
have violated so that the Court could determine whether it
had jurisdiction to hear the matter (Filing No. 4).
Hudson-Harris filed a “Supplement to Complaint”
on March 23, 2016 (Filing No. 7). In her Supplement,
Hudson-Harris alleged that Principal Pickrell and Mrs. Nonte
violated the federal No Child Left Behind Act and the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §
1400 et seq., (“IDEA”). She explained
that IDEA requires states to provide a free appropriate
public education in the least restrictive environment. She
alleged that her due process request outlined in the statute
Court's Entry of March 28, 2016, the Court explained that
the No Child Left Behind Act does not provide a private right
of action for enforcement. Horne v. Flores, 557 U.S.
433, 456 n.6 (2009). The statute “is enforceable only
by the agency charged with administering it.”
Id. Thus, Hudson-Harris's claim brought under
the No Child Left Behind Act was dismissed for failure to
state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Filing
No. 8 at 2).
Court also explained in its March 28, 2016 Entry that IDEA
requires state and local educational agencies that receive
assistance under the statute to “maintain procedures .
. . to ensure that children with disabilities and their
parents are guaranteed procedural safeguards with respect to
the provision of a free appropriate public education.”
20 U.S.C. § 1415. The statute lays out procedural
safeguards to pursue educational rights, and if a student or
parent is aggrieved, after administrative procedures have
been exhausted, any party aggrieved by the findings and
decision has the right to bring a civil action in a district
court of the United States. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(A).
The proper defendant in a case brought under IDEA is the
“local educational agency.” 20 U.S.C. 1413;
Stanek v. St. Charles Cmty. Unit Sch. Dist. #303,
783 F.3d 634, 640 (7th Cir. 2015). Therefore,
Hudson-Harris's claim under IDEA asserted against
Principal Pickrell and Mrs. Nonte was dismissed for failure
to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Filing
No. 8 at 2). However, the Court construed
Hudson-Harris's IDEA claim as being brought against the
School Board and directed the Clerk to substitute that entity
as the sole defendant. Thus, the only claim proceeding in
this action is Hudson-Harris's claim under IDEA against
the School Board. Id.
27, 2016, the School Board filed an Answer to
Hudson-Harris's Complaint, denying any and all liability.
The School Board denied the allegations of the Complaint and
denied that it violated IDEA in any way. The School Board
also answered that Hudson-Harris has failed to pursue and
exhaust administrative remedies, thereby depriving this Court
of jurisdiction (Filing No. 13).
May 27, 2016, the School Board filed its Motion for Judgment
on the Pleadings under Rule 12(c), arguing that it is
entitled to judgment in its favor because Hudson-Harris did
not pursue and exhaust any available administrative remedies,
and as a result, the Court is left without jurisdiction to
consider Hudson-Harris's IDEA claim (Filing No.
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for
judgment after the parties have filed a complaint and an
answer. Rule 12(c) motions are analyzed under the same
standard as a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6).
Pisciotta v. Old Nat'l Bancorp., 499 F.3d 629,
633 (7th Cir. 2007); Frey v. Bank One, 91 F.3d 45,
46 (7th Cir. 1996). The complaint must allege facts that are
“enough to raise a right to relief above the
speculative level.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). Although
“detailed factual allegations” are not required,
mere “labels, ” “conclusions, ” or
“formulaic recitation[s] of the elements of a cause of
action” are insufficient. Id. Stated
differently, the complaint must include “enough facts
to state a claim to relief that is plausible on its
face.” Hecker v. Deere & Co., 556 F.3d
575, 580 (7th Cir. 2009) (internal citation and quotation
marks omitted). To be facially plausible, the complaint must
allow “the court to draw the reasonable inference that
the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court will grant a Rule 12(c)
motion only if “it appears beyond doubt that the
plaintiff cannot prove any facts that would support his claim
for relief.” N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc.
v. City of S. Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 452 (7th Cir. 1998)
(quoting Craigs, Inc. v. Gen. Elec. Capital Corp.,
12 F.3d 686, 688 (7th Cir. 1993)). The factual allegations in
the complaint are viewed in a light most favorable to the
non-moving party; however, the Court is “not obliged to
ignore any facts set forth in the complaint that undermine
the plaintiff's claim or to assign any weight to
unsupported conclusions of law.” Id.
(quoting R.J.R. Serv., Inc. v. Aetna Cas. & Sur.
Co., 895 F.2d 279, 281 (7th Cir. 1989)). “As the
title of the rule implies, Rule 12(c) permits a judgment
based on the pleadings alone. . . . The pleadings include the
complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached
as exhibits.” Id. (internal citations
“[a] document filed pro se is to be liberally
construed, and a pro se complaint, however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson
v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007). Moreover, “a
plaintiff is not required to plead facts in the complaint to
anticipate and defeat ...