United States District Court, D. Hawaii
ORDER DETERMINING CLASS
Oki Mollway United States District Judge
class action concerns whether the State of Hawaii Department
of Education (“DOE”) wrongfully denied services
under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
(“IDEA”) to individuals that the DOE viewed as
having “aged out” of being eligible to receive
services. On August 28, 2013, the Ninth Circuit reversed a
decision by another judge of this court, ruling that the
DOE's reliance on a Hawaii statute, Act 163, to deny
services under the IDEA was improper, and that individuals
had not “aged out” as calculated by the DOE.
class in this action was previously defined as:
All individuals residing in the State of Hawai`i who over the
age of 20 on or before the first day of the school year (or
who will imminently be over the age of 20 on that date) but
under the age of 22 who are entitled to receive special
education and related services from Defendant the Hawai`i
Department of Education under the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act.
ECF No. 31 at 2, PageID # 685. On December 15, 2014, however
the parties agreed to modify the class definition to the
All IDEA eligible persons who turned age 20 after 7/1/10 and
were made ineligible by Act 163 and all IDEA eligible persons
who were over age 20, but under age 22, on 7/1/10 and made
ineligible by Act 163.
ECF No. 213-1, PageID # 3299.
20, 2016, the court ordered Plaintiffs to file under seal no
later than September 19, 2016, a list of all individuals
included in the class, stating that, after September 19,
2016, no individual may be added to the class. See
ECF No. 388, PageID # 6859. Plaintiffs filed that list on
September 19, 2016. See ECF No. 414. On October 11,
2016, the DOE submitted objections to some of the individuals
identified by Plaintiffs. See ECF No. 420.
Plaintiffs subsequently responded to the objections.
See ECF No. 421.
court now determines that, with the exceptions stated below,
the individuals identified by Plaintiffs in their filing of
September 19, 2016, are the only individuals included in the
class. The court also closes the class. No further efforts
should be undertaken to identify or contact additional
individuals for the purpose of adding them to the class.
court excludes from the class individuals who were “too
young” to have been affected by Act 163. In its order
of May 20, 2016, this court stated that the class will not
include “any ‘too young' individuals other
than those already expressly included in the class by the
Magistrate Judge.” ECF No. 388, PageID # 6859. The DOE
objects to five individuals it says are “too
young” to be included in the class. See ECF
No. 420, PageID # 7000. Although Plaintiffs claim it is
“impossible to say whether the DOE has used the correct
birthdates” for these individuals, ECF No. 421, PageID
# 7006, these five individuals are excluded from the class.
If it turns out that these five individuals are not actually
“too young, ” the parties are ordered to meet and
confer regarding a possible stipulation that adds the
individuals to the class.
objects to numerous individuals on the ground that they left
school before age 20. The court overrules this objection and
includes these individuals in the class. These individuals
fall within the range of individuals described in the class
definition as having been “made ineligible by Act
163.” Even if they left school before age 20, they
could have returned and received services had Act 163 not
been in effect. An individual who left school before age 20
may find the benefits awarded in this lawsuit affected by
that prior leaving, but that goes to the remedy, not to class
also objects to the inclusion of individuals it lists as
allegedly ineligible for special education services, having
withdrawn from school, or having declined a Free Appropriate
Public Education (“FAPE”). Because the record is
not clear that the individuals were in fact ineligible for
special education services, that they withdrew from school,
or that they declined FAPE, the court overrules the
objections to these individuals and includes them in the
class. The court also questions whether withdrawing from
school in one year or declining FAPE in one year necessarily
renders an individual thereafter eternally ineligible under
the IDEA. Again, however, individuals may find their
available remedies affected by their prior actions. The
parties are ordered to meet and confer with respect to the
individuals subject to these objections to discuss the
appropriate remedies for these individuals.
court excludes from the class individuals who “exited
after Act 107 was repealed, ” or “aged out at
22.” These individuals were not made ineligible by Act
respect to any individual who “earned enough credits to
receive [a] diploma, ” the DOE should consider awarding
the individual his or her diploma. Until the court receives
proof the individual has graduated from high school, the
individual shall remain part of the class, as the court will
assume for purposes of this motion that there was some
impediment to the awarding ...