United States District Court, D. Kansas
TONI R. DONAHUE, Plaintiff,
KANSAS BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
P. O Hara U.S. Magistrate Judge
action brought under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f),
the pro se plaintiff seeks judicial review of a decision by a
due process hearing officer, and subsequent administrative
review, related to complaints she logged against the Olathe
School District, USD #233 (“the District”).
Before the court are plaintiff's motion to supplement the
administrative record with certain e-mail correspondence (ECF
No. 112) and plaintiff's motion for discovery beyond the
administrative record (ECF No. 111). The motion to supplement
the record is granted as unopposed. But because plaintiff has
not demonstrated the discovery sought is relevant to the
issue before the court, the motion for discovery is denied.
Motion to Supplement the Record On July 4, 2018, the
District filed what it represents to be the administrative
record (ECF No. 87). On July 11, 2018, plaintiff filed a
motion asserting, in part, that the District failed to submit
the entire administrative record, and seeking
sanctions for the alleged failure (ECF No. 92). In denying
the motion, the undersigned U.S. Magistrate Judge, James P.
O'Hara, found “plaintiff fail[ed] to identify how
the record is deficient, ” and directed plaintiff to
“file a motion to supplement the record” should
she “later identify some specific issue with the
administrative record submitted by the
has now filed a motion to supplement the record with 106
e-mails that she contends are relevant to the administrative
decisions (ECF No. 112). She has attached the specific
correspondence as exhibits to her motion. Although defendants
dispute the relevance of this correspondence, they do not
oppose plaintiff's request, so long as certain
protections are put in place (see ECF No. 113), which the
court orders below. Accordingly, the motion is granted as
unopposed. Motion for Discovery Plaintiff's
second motion requests discovery of (1) previously
undisclosed e-mail and telephonic communication between
certain employees or agents for the District, Kansas
Department of Education, and/or the due process hearing
officers; and (2) employee time cards for the dates on which
“emergency safety interventions” were implemented
for her child (ECF No. 111).
court will permit discovery that is deemed both relevant and
proportional to the needs of the case. In IDEA cases,
the district court has discretion to determine whether it
will hear evidence beyond the administrative
record. “The district court's discretion
to accept additional evidence is limited, however, because
‘such evidence is merely supplemental to the
administrative record' and federal court proceedings
‘must maintain the character of review and not rise to
the level of a de novo trial.'” Only evidence
that is relevant to the particular issue properly before the
court should be considered.
the limited issue before the court is the timing of the
District's notice that plaintiff's administrative
complaint was insufficient. The due process hearing officer
determined plaintiff's “complaint notice, ”
as that term is defined in K.S.A. § 72-972a(a)(1)(B),
was insufficient because it did not contain the name or
address of the child, nor the name of the child's
school. The hearing officer further determined the
District satisfied the requirements of K.S.A. §
72-972a(b)(2) by notifying the hearing officer and plaintiff
of the deficiency within 15 days of when it received the
complaint; had the District not satisfied K.S.A. §
72-972a(b)(2), the complaint notice would have been deemed
sufficient per the statute. Without reaching the merits of
plaintiff's complaint, the hearing officer dismissed the
case on this procedural basis. The issue plaintiff has raised
in this court is whether the District, in fact, provided
notice of insufficiency within the required 15 days.
has failed to demonstrate the discovery she seeks is relevant
to this limited issue. Plaintiff asserts the communications
will show “the official timeline of the due process
procedure . . . which [the District] violated
consistently” and will “substantiate that the
defendants participated in unlawful and unethical ex parte
communications.” Plaintiff states the time cards “are
the motive and/or subject matter of the ex parte
communications, ” because the hearing officer dismissed
her case within three hours of plaintiff requesting the time
cards in November 2017.
the question of whether certain people participated in ex
parte communications is not the issue before the court.
Second, it is entirely unclear how the communications
plaintiff seeks could demonstrate the relevant timing of the
District's response. Even if the e-mails could be deemed
marginally relevant, the court above has admitted 102 e-mails
into the record, which supplement the 34 exhibits (many of
which are also e-mails) that were submitted as the
administrative record on July 4, 2018. Any additional e-mails
would be cumulative as related to the timing issue, making
the burden of obtaining them not proportional to the needs of
this case. Because the discovery sought has not been shown to
be relevant or proportional, plaintiff's motion for
discovery is denied.
THEREFORE ORDERED that plaintiff's motion to supplement
the record (ECF No. 112) is granted. By March 8,
2019, plaintiff shall redact the name of any minor
mentioned in an e-mail attached to ECF No. 112 and submit the
redacted document to the clerk's office for substitution
on the record. Should the parties cite any of the e-mails in
subsequent briefs, they shall do so using the number assigned
on the docket (e.g., ECF No. 112-1; ECF No. 112-2, p. 2).
FURTHER ORDERED that plaintiff's motion for discovery
(ECF No. 111) is denied.
FURTHER ORDERED that the court deems the complete record
“filed” as of today's date. Pursuant to D.
Kan. Rule 83.7.1(d), plaintiff's brief is due
“within 45 days.” Plaintiff is
hereby informed that, within 14 days after she is served with
a copy of this order, she may, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 72
and D. Kan. Rule 72.1.4(a), file written objections to this
order by filing a motion for review of this order. Plaintiff
must file any objections within the 14-day period if she
wants to have appellate review of this order. If plaintiff
does not timely file her objections, no court will allow
 ECF No. 94 at 2.
 Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1).