Submitted: January 10, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Missouri - St. Louis
RILEY, Chief Judge, LOKEN and BENTON, Circuit Judges.
BENTON, Circuit Judge.
behalf of her minor son, J.M., Kristine McCauley sued Francis
Howell School District, claiming unlawful use of isolation
and physical restraints. Her second amended complaint
asserted violations of: (1) the Equal Protection Clause of
the Fourteenth Amendment; (2) 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and
1988; (2) the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42
U.S.C. § 12182; (3) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973; and (4) the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA),
RSMo § 213.010 et seq. The district court dismissed the
federal claims for "lack of subject matter jurisdiction
for failure to exhaust administrative remedies" and
declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the MHRA
claim, dismissing it without prejudice. Having
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291, this court affirms.
2011, J.M. began kindergarten in the Francis Howell School
District. J.M. qualified for services under the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) based on his diagnoses
of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum
disorder, anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder,
panic disorder, Asperger's/autism spectrum disorder, and
generalized anxiety. See 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et
seq. Under the IDEA, J.M. had an Individualized Education
alleges that between January 2012 and September 2014, J.M.
repeatedly was placed in physical restraints and isolation
without her knowledge. Learning of this, she immediately
contacted the District, requesting restraints only when
necessary and no isolation. On September 5, McCauley removed
J.M. from the District.
sued in federal court under the IDEA, 42 U.S.C. §§
1983 and 1988, and Missouri common law (torts of negligence
per se, false imprisonment, and battery). She amended the
complaint to add claims under the ADA and MHRA. The District
answered, claiming failure to exhaust administrative remedies
for the federal claims, and sovereign immunity for the common
law tort claims. McCauley voluntarily amended her complaint,
removing the IDEA and common law tort claims. Her second
amended complaint thus included claims under the Equal
Protection Clause, 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983 and 1988, the
ADA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the
District moved to dismiss, alleging lack of subject matter
jurisdiction for failure to exhaust administrative remedies
under the IDEA. McCauley argued her claims were not under the
IDEA, and thus not subject to exhaustion. In the alternative,
she asserted exceptions to the exhaustion requirement. The
district court granted the motion to dismiss.
court reviews de novo whether exhaustion of administrative
remedies was required. J.B. ex rel. Bailey v. Avilla
R-XIII School Dist., 721 F.3d 588, 592 (8th Cir. 2013),
citing Brown v. J.B. Hunt Transp. Servs., Inc., 586
F.3d 1079, 1083 n.4 (8th Cir. 2009).
the IDEA, Congress established procedural safeguards to
ensure individuals with disabilities will have the
opportunity to obtain a free appropriate public education
(FAPE)." Id., citing 20 U.S.C. §
1415(a). One safeguard is an opportunity to present
complaints about the provision of a FAPE in "an
impartial due process hearing." Id.,
quoting Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 311-12 (1988).
See 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f). "A party
aggrieved by the outcome of an IDEA due process hearing may
challenge the outcome before the state educational review
agency." J.B., 721 F.3d at 592, citing
20 U.S.C. § 1415(g)(1). "The outcome of the
administrative review hearing may then be disputed in
district court." Id., citing 20 U.S.C.
IDEA's exhaustion requirement also applies to claims
under the Constitution, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and
other federal laws protecting children with disabilities to
the extent those claims seek relief "that is also
available under [the IDEA]." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(1);
Fry v. Napoleon Cmty. School, No. 15-497, 2017 WL
685533, at *8 (U.S. Feb. 22, 2017) ("Section 1415(1)
requires that a plaintiff exhaust the IDEA's procedures
before filing an action under the ADA, the Rehabilitation
Act, or similar laws when (but only when) her suit
'seek[s] relief that is also available' under the
IDEA."); J.B., 721 F.3d at 592 ("[B]efore
parties may bring a claim in district court under a different
statute for which they seek relief which is also available
under the IDEA, the parties must first exhaust the
administrative remedies under the IDEA."). After
argument in this case, the Supreme Court held that
"'relief that is also available' under the
IDEA" means "relief for the denial of a FAPE,
because that is the only 'relief' the IDEA makes
'available.'" Fry, 2017 WL 685533, at
*8. Thus, "exhaustion is not necessary when the gravamen
of the plaintiff's suit is something other than the
denial of the IDEA's core guarantee-what the Act calls a
'free appropriate public education.'"
Id., at *3, quoting § 1412(a)(1)(A).
whether a suit indeed 'seeks' relief for [denial of a
FAPE], a court should look to the substance, or gravamen, of
the plaintiff's complaint." Id., at *8. The
inquiry "does not ride on whether a complaint includes
(or, alternatively, omits) the precise words(?)
'FAPE' or 'IEP.'" Id., at *11.
Rather, "[i]n addressing whether a complaint fits that
description, a court should attend to the diverse means and
ends of the statutes covering persons ...