United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Osseo Area Schools, Independent School District No. 279, Plaintiff,
M.N.B., by and through her parent, J.B., Defendant.
BOWBEER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant M.N.B.'s Motion
to Supplement the Record [Doc. No. 44]. The motion is granted
in part and denied in part, as set forth below.
Osseo Area Schools, Independent School District No. 279
(“ISD 279” or “District”), commenced
this action pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (“IDEA”) against M.N.B., a student
who does not reside in, but is open-enrolled in, the
District. ISD 279 is appealing a decision by a state
administrative law judge (“ALJ”) that requires
the District to provide special transportation between
M.N.B.'s home and school because her Individual Education
Program (“IEP”) plan requires it. At the time of
the ALJ's decision, ISD 279's policy was to provide
special transportation for students open-enrolled by parent
choice only from the District's boundaries to school. ISD
279 took the position that parents who chose to open-enroll
their children had the duty to transport the students to and
from the District's border, and the District would
provide transportation between its borders and the school.
ISD 279 commenced this action, M.N.B. sought limited
discovery on the District's transportation policy and the
Minnesota Department of Education's (“MDE”)
directives about the policy. M.N.B. now asks for permission
to supplement the record with the following evidence: (1) the
District's responses to M.N.B.'s Requests for
Admission (“RFA”) Nos. 5, 11, 12, and 13; (2) the
District's response to M.N.B.'s Interrogatory No. 4;
(3) the District's responses to M.N.B.'s Requests for
Production (“RFP”) Nos. 2, 4, 5, and 6; and (4) a
stipulation between the District and M.N.B. regarding the
District's consideration of the costs associated with
transporting M.N.B. out of district.
the IDEA, a court reviewing an ALJ's decision made in a
state administrative proceeding “(i) shall receive the
records of the administrative proceedings; (ii) shall hear
additional evidence at the request of a party; and (iii)
basing its decision on the preponderance of the evidence,
shall grant such relief as the court determines is
appropriate.” 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2)(C). Although
the IDEA permits a federal court to expand the administrative
record, a“[d]ecision on the record compiled before the
administrative agency is the norm.” Indep. Sch.
Dist. No. 283 v. S.D. ex rel. J.D., 88 F.3d 556, 560
(8th Cir. 1996) (quoting Hunger v. Leininger, 15
F.3d 664, 670 (7th Cir. 1994)). A party who wants “to
introduce additional evidence at the district court level
must provide some solid justification for doing so.”
Id. (quoting Roland M. v. Concord Sch.
Comm., 910 F.2d 983, 996 (1st Cir. 1990)). Reasons to
allow supplementation “might include gaps in the
administrative transcript owing to mechanical failure,
unavailability of a witness, an improper exclusion of
evidence by the administrative agency, and evidence
concerning relevant events occurring subsequent to the
administrative hearing.” Moubry v. Indep. Sch.
Dist. No. 696, 951 F.Supp. 867, 900 (D. Minn. 1996).
the evidence M.N.B. has asked to add to the record is already
a part of the record, such as the fact that her school is not
located within the District's boundaries; a letter dated
October 12, 2016, from the MDE to the District; a redacted
list of student names filed in MDE Complaint File No.
16-138C; and a form letter the District sent to parents
regarding transportation. M.N.B.'s motion to supplement
the record is denied to this extent.
also seeks to supplement the record with other material that
is not really “evidence, ” such as the
District's decision not to appeal a Minnesota Court of
Appeals' decision and a stipulation between the parties
included in a joint letter filed with the Court [Doc. No.
42]. M.N.B. does not need to supplement the administrative
record to refer to these procedural matters, and her motion
is denied to this extent.
remaining evidence relates to events that occurred after the
administrative proceedings or spanned the school year during
which the administrative proceedings occurred: the
District's provision of transportation outside its
boundaries for some open-enrolled, non-resident students
during the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years; options
available to M.N.B. for transportation between her home and
school at the District's expense; documents showing the
District's compliance with MDE Complaint Decision No.
16-138C; documents reflecting the District's policies and
procedures for the open-enrollment of non-resident students
for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 school years; nonresident and
non-member transfer application forms for the open-enrollment
of non-resident students for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018
school years; and non-resident open-enrollment student
transportation request forms for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018
argues this evidence is relevant to the District's
rationale and legal justification for denying her
transportation between her home and school. M.N.B. contends
the evidence demonstrates that ISD 279 abandoned the
offending transportation policy after the MDE demanded that
it do so, and that the District now provides out-of-district
transportation to some open-enrolled students. M.N.B. also
argues that she would have submitted this evidence at the
administrative level if the matter had progressed past
District responds that the evidence is irrelevant to the
narrow issue presented in this case, specifically, whether
M.N.B., who has chosen to open-enroll in the District, is
entitled to publicly-funded transportation from her home to
the District's border. The District also argues that the
administrative record is extensive and that M.N.B.
necessarily agreed by agreeing to the summary administrative
procedure that there were no genuine issues of material fact.
Court finds that M.N.B. has provided a solid justification to
present the remaining additional evidence-with one
exception-to the District Court in connection with
anticipated summary judgment motion practice so that the
District Court can determine the relevance of and weight to
give the evidence in the context of the fully briefed motions
for summary judgment. The Court has doubts about the
relevance of the evidence, but the relevance is best assessed
in the context of the arguments the parties actually make,
not in a vacuum or with reference to arguments one party
suspects the other might make. Thus, in granting this aspect
of the motion, the Court is only allowing M.N.B. to submit
the additional evidence to the District Court. Nothing in
this Order should be read to preclude the District from
arguing that the additional evidence is not relevant or that
it should not be considered because M.N.B. did not submit it
in the administrative proceeding.
exception to the above order is the District's response
to Interrogatory No. 4, which asked the District to describe
options available to M.N.B. for transportation between her
home and school at the District's expense. The ALJ
explicitly excluded this issue from consideration in the
written decision. (Compl. Ex. 1 at 15 (“The issue
raised by the parties concerned only the question of
inter-district transportation and not whether the
Student's transportation requirements could be met ...