Case: R.A.G. v. Buffalo City Sch. Dist. Bd. Of Educ.

1:12-cv-00960 | U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York

Filed Date: Oct. 11, 2012

Closed Date: 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

This case is about the denial of access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to educationally disabled students in the Buffalo City School District. A student with an educational disability received an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the 2011 school year that included speech and language therapy. Though the IEP projected services to commence with the school year, the school district delayed the start of IEP related services until the third week. The student's parent claimed …

This case is about the denial of access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to educationally disabled students in the Buffalo City School District. A student with an educational disability received an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for the 2011 school year that included speech and language therapy. Though the IEP projected services to commence with the school year, the school district delayed the start of IEP related services until the third week. The student's parent claimed the delay was a result of the school district’s policy and not the result of any discussion with the parent or an individualized assessment of their child’s needs. The student’s parent, individually and on behalf of their child, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York on October 11, 2012. They alleged this policy denied parents meaningful participation in the educational decision-making process, denied individualized determinations of IEPs, and, therefore, denied students of a FAPE. The plaintiff sued the Buffalo City School District Board of Education and its superintendent under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDIEA), and state law. The plaintiffs, represented by private attorneys specializing in disability law, sought declaratory relief, injunctive relief, additional services for the student to compensate for delayed implementation of therapy, and attorneys’ fees and cost.

The case was automatically referred to mediation on December 18, 2012 and assigned to Judge Leslie G. Foschio. The parties agreed to and selected a private mediator in March 2013.

On November 2, 2012, the plaintiffs sought class certification of those students with learning disabilities and their parents who had been similarly denied services in the first two weeks of school and meaningful participation by the parents in their children’s educational decision-making process. The defendants sought to stay the decision on class certification, but on June 30, 2013 Judge William M. Skretny granted class certification and denied the defendant’s motion to stay. 2013 WL 3354424. The court defined the certified class as:

[C]hildren, and parents of children, between the ages of 5 and 21 residing in the Buffalo City School District, present and future, who are classified as disabled per the definition in [IDEA] . . . and receive related services.

On July 3, 2013, the defendants appealed Judge Skrenty’s decision granting class certification to the Second Circuit. On June 17, 2014, the appeals court affirmed Judge Skrenty’s decision to grant class certification because the plaintiffs’ case was based on a policy that applied uniformly to all students, satisfying the class commonality requirement. (Circuit Judges Rosemary S. Pooler, Peter W. Hall, Susan L. Carney). 569 Fed.Appx. 41.

Mediation and settlement discussions continued throughout the remainder of 2014, and on January 27, 2015 the parties reached a written settlement subject to approval of the Buffalo Board of Education and the court. Judge Skrenty finalized and approved the settlement on March 24, 2015. The settlement involved injunctive relief, compensatory services in the form of 10 hours of speech and language therapy services to the named plaintiff, and attorneys’ fees. The Board of Education agreed to void any practices or procedures indicating that speech and language services shall begin no later than a certain date. They agreed that the start date for speech and language services would be made basis of individual assessments and data of each child, and individual speech and language therapy would be presumed to begin at the start of the school year. Additionally, they agreed that group therapy would begin no later than two weeks after the start of each school year. The firm representing the plaintiffs was assigned to conduct monitoring during the 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 school years. Within 90 days, the Board of Education was to provide notice to class members of the settlement. Any disputes related to the implementation and/or interpretation of the settlement were agreed to be handled through arbitration. The attorneys were awarded $165,000. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Emily Kempa (2/4/2019)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5096177/parties/rag-by-her-parent-rb-v-buffalo-city-school-district-board-of/


Judge(s)

Foschio, Leslie G. (New York)

Skretny, William M. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Ackerhalt, Arthur H (New York)

Goldstein, Bruce A (New York)

Pletcher, Jay Charles (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Foss, Kelly S (New York)

Sullivan, Richard T (New York)

Weiss, Jeffrey Joel (New York)

Judge(s)

Foschio, Leslie G. (New York)

Skretny, William M. (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Ackerhalt, Arthur H (New York)

Goldstein, Bruce A (New York)

Pletcher, Jay Charles (New York)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Foss, Kelly S (New York)

Sullivan, Richard T (New York)

Weiss, Jeffrey Joel (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:12-cv-00960

Docket [PACER]

R.A.G. v. Buffalo City School District Board Of Education

April 12, 2018

April 12, 2018

Docket
1

1:12-cv-00960

Complaint

R.A.G. v. Buffalo City School District Board Of Education

Oct. 11, 2012

Oct. 11, 2012

Complaint
40

1:12-cv-00960

Decision and Order Granting Class Certification

R.A.G. v. Buffalo City School District Board Of Education

June 30, 2013

June 30, 2013

Order/Opinion
58

1:12-cv-00960

Stipulation and Order of Settlement

R.A.G. v. Buffalo City School District Board Of Education

March 24, 2015

March 24, 2015

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5096177/rag-by-her-parent-rb-v-buffalo-city-school-district-board-of/

Last updated Aug. 8, 2022, 3:05 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
40

DECISION AND ORDER GRANTING Plaintiffs' 5 Motion for Class Certification; DENYING Defendants' 24 Cross-Motion for a Stay of the Class Certification Determination; CERTIFYING the proposed class pursuant to Rule23(b)(2), consistent with the foregoing decision; APPOINTING the firm of Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP class counsel pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(1)(B). Signed by William M. Skretny, Chief Judge U.S.D.C. on 6/30/2013. (MEAL)

July 3, 2013

July 3, 2013

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: New York

Case Type(s):

Education

Special Collection(s):

Post-WalMart decisions on class certification

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: Oct. 11, 2012

Closing Date: 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All children, and parents of children, between the ages of 5 and 21 residing in the Buffalo City School District, present and future, who are classified with disabilities per the definition in Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, and receive related services.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Buffalo City School District (Buffalo, Erie), School District

Defendant Type(s):

Elementary/Secondary School

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Indv. w/ Disab. Educ. Act (IDEA), Educ. of All Handcpd. Children Act , 20 U.S.C. § 1400

Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701

State law

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: 165,000

Order Duration: 2015 - 2017

Content of Injunction:

Auditing

Monitoring

Remedial education

Reporting

Issues

General:

Education

Individualized planning

Parents (visitation, involvement)

School/University policies

Special education

Discrimination-basis:

Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)

Disability:

disability, unspecified

Mental Disability:

Intellectual/developmental disability, unspecified

Learning disability

Medical/Mental Health:

Intellectual/Developmental Disability

Type of Facility:

Government-run