This opinion will be unpublished and

may not be cited except as provided by

Minn. Stat. § 480A.08, subd. 3 (2004).







Independent School District No. 623,

Roseville Area Schools,





Minnesota Department of Education,




Filed November 22, 2005

Klaphake, Judge


Minnesota Department of Education

File No. 2095


Michael J. Waldspurger, Ratwik, Roszak & Maloney, P.A., 300 U.S. Trust Building, 730 Second Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN  55402 (for relator)


Mike Hatch, Attorney General, Martha J. Casserly, Assistant Attorney General, 1200 Bremer Tower, 445 Minnesota Street, St. Paul, MN  55101-2134 (for respondent)



            Considered and decided by Dietzen, Presiding Judge, Klaphake, Judge, and Crippen, Judge.*

U N P U B L I S H E D   O P I N I O N


            Relator Independent School District No. 623, Roseville Area Schools, challenges a decision issued by respondent Minnesota Department of Education (the department) resolving a complaint filed by a mother for two of her children.  The children have attended schools in the district since 1996; both have disabilities and qualify to receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the act).  The mother’s complaint alleged that relator violated due process when it removed her children from school for a six-day period, until she proved to the district’s satisfaction that she resided in the district.

            Based upon its investigation of the complaint, the department concluded that relator violated the act by not providing the children with free and appropriate public education.  The department further concluded that while the students did not suffer educational harm so as to entitle them to compensatory educational services, corrective action was appropriate.  The department ordered relator to update its policies to provide due process to any disabled student before relator seeks to remove him or her for nonresidency.

            Because the department merely ordered relator to adopt uniform and fair procedures before removing a student who is receiving services under the act, and because the department had the inherent authority to take this type of corrective action when resolving this complaint, we affirm.


            A party may seek review of an agency’s decision by writ of certiorari in accordance with Minn. Stat. §§ 14.63, .64 (2004).  See In re Chisago Lakes Sch. Dist., 690 N.W.2d 407, 409 (Minn. App. 2005).  Here, relator challenges the department’s decision on the grounds that it reflects an “error of law,” is “arbitrary, capricious, and in excess of the decision-maker’s authority,” and “contains findings that are unsupported by the evidence.”  See Minn. Stat. § 14.69(a)-(f) (2004) (setting out standards to review decision of agency).

            The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the act) provides federal funds to states for educating disabled children.  See Spec. Sch. Dist. No. 1 v. E.N., 620 N.W.2d 65, 68-69 (Minn. App. 2000); 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1400 – 1487 (West 2000 & Supp. 2005); Minn. Stat. §§ 125A.01 - .80 (2004).  To receive these federal funds, a state must provide all disabled students a “free and appropriate public education” through the creation of an “individualized education program” specifically designed to meet the student’s educational needs.  20 U.S.C.A. § 1412(a).

            A parent who is dissatisfied with the educational services provided by a school district has “two separate, distinct, and independent remedies” against the school district:  (1) due process hearings; or (2) complaint resolution procedures.  Megan C. v. Indep. Sch. Dist. No. 625, 57 F. Supp.2d 776, 780 (D. Minn. 1999).  The mother here filed a complaint with the department challenging relator’s decision to remove her children from its schools.  See 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.660-.662 (2004) (setting out complaint resolution procedures).  When resolving this complaint, the department was entitled, under its “general supervisory authority,” to fashion an appropriate remedy.  See 34 C.F.R. § 300.660(b)(1), (2) (authorizing agency to take “other corrective action” as appropriate to “the needs of the child” and “[a]ppropriate further provision of services for all children with disabilities”).

            Relator argues that the department exceeded its authority by determining that relator’s process for terminating the attendance of nonresident students was unconstitutional.  Relator misconstrues the department’s decision.  The department merely determined that relator must provide some process and procedural safeguards before it removes a student from school for nonresidency, a determination that is entirely consistent with constitutional principles.  See Goss v. Lopez, 419 U.S. 565, 573, 95 S. Ct. 729, 736 (1975) (holding that students are entitled to procedural protections against unfair suspensions that include some notice of charges and opportunity to explain position to authorities).  The department’s determination is also consistent with the purposes of the act.  See Honig v. Doe, 484 U.S. 305, 327, 108 S. Ct. 592, 606 (1988) (stating that one of the purposes of the act was “to prevent school officials from removing a child” from school “pending completion of review proceedings”).       

            Relator next argues that the department committed an error of law and made findings unsupported by the evidence when it concluded that relator violated the act by denying the students free and appropriate public education. 

            Relator also argues that the department exceeded its authority and committed an error of law by disregarding state statutes and its own administrative rules that require districts to provide services only to children whose parents live in the district.  See, e.g., Minn. Stat. § 125A.03(a), .05(c); Minn. R. 3525.0200, subp. 39, .0800, subp. 1 (2005).  Relator asserts that once it discovered that the mother was not residing in the district, it was not obligated to provide her children with services and properly exercised its authority to remove them from its schools.  See J.S. v. Shoreline Sch. Dist., 220 F. Supp.2d 1175, 1191-92 (W.D. Wash. 2002) (affirming hearing officer’s decision that district was absolved of responsibility under the act once student was no longer resident of district); Minn. Stat. § 123B.02, subd. 1 (2004) (giving school board general authority to manage its schools).

            Relator, however, mischaracterizes the facts and the department’s decision.  These students were not, as relator insists, nonresidents who were unlawfully attending schools in the district; rather, a dispute existed as to whether the mother resided in Cottage Grove, as relator claimed, or whether she resided with her parents in the district.  The department did not err in determining that relator violated the act when it unilaterally removed these students from school and ceased providing them with services.  And, by requiring relator to adopt and implement uniform procedures and provide notice of those procedures to parties involved in a residency dispute, the department did not improperly usurp or disregard state laws and rules regarding residency.  We therefore conclude that the department did not exceed its authority by determining that relator was required to provide these children with some process before removing them from school.

            Finally, relator argues that the department exceeded its authority by ruling that the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act, Minn. Stat. §§ 121A.40-.56 (2004), applies when a school district seeks to terminate a student for nonresidency.  The department, however, merely suggested that “one way” for relator to meet its obligation would be to apply the Pupil Fair Dismissal Act to such situations; the department did not order relator to follow this act when resolving residency disputes.  Rather, relator has some discretion to formulate the procedures it will follow when determining a student’s residency.

            Affirmed. [1]

* Retired judge of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, serving by appointment pursuant to Minn. Const. art. VI, § 10.

[1]  We note that relator raises a number of other arguments that we have fully considered and find to be without merit.  We further note that the department argues that relator is barred by collateral estoppel from challenging the mother’s residency, claiming that issue was decided by an independent hearing officer in a related due process hearing brought by the mother on behalf of another child.  Because this argument was not addressed by the department in its decision and is being made for the first time on appeal, we decline to address it.