The opinion of the court was delivered by: Wexler, District Judge.
This is an action for an award of attorneys fees pursuant to
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415
(the "IDEA"). Plaintiffs seek fees pursuant to the provision in
the IDEA that authorizes an award of fees to "the parents of a
child with a disability who is the prevailing party" in
connection with any action or proceeding brought pursuant to the
IDEA. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B). Defendant argues that an award
of fees in this case is not authorized by statute and moves,
pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure, to dismiss plaintiffs' action in its entirety. For the
reasons set forth below, the court holds that plaintiffs have
stated a claim for an award of attorneys' fees and therefore
denies the motion to dismiss.
The facts as set forth in the complaint, accepted as true for
purposes of this motion to dismiss, are as follows. Plaintiffs
F.R. and K.R. ("Plaintiffs") are the parents of M.R., a child
born in June of 1983 who, at all relevant times, attended school
within the Plainedge School District (the "District"). Defendant
is the Plainedge Board of Education.
When M.R. was in first grade, he was diagnosed with Attention
Deficit Disorder along with hyperactivity. His condition was
improved with the use of medication, and, at that time, M.R.'s
parents made no request for any special education services and
none were provided. When M.R. was in the fourth grade, his
teacher was changed for reasons that are not clearly set forth in
the complaint. At no time prior to the involvement of plaintiffs'
attorney did M.R.'s parents make any request that special
education services be provided for M.R. and the District
Committee on Special Education ("CSE") never met on his behalf.
Nor during this time period were Plaintiffs advised by the
District of any rights M.R. might have pursuant to the IDEA.
On November 5, 1998, Plaintiffs contacted counsel to discuss
their child's rights. In a letter dated November 10, 1998,
Plaintiffs' counsel advised the District that he would be
representing Plaintiffs (the "November 10 Letter"). The November
10 Letter referred to a suspension hearing scheduled for November
16, 1998. Counsel advised the District that M.R.'s situation
would be more properly addressed by the CSE and demanded an
impartial hearing to determine whether the District's had failed
to properly address M.R.'s needs.
The November 10 Letter stated that the requested impartial
hearing could be resolved if the District agreed to immediately
convene a meeting of the CSE on M.R.'s behalf for the purposes of
classifying M.R. as either "Other Health Impaired" or
"Emotionally Disturbed" and thereafter agreed to provide an
appropriate and challenging educational program for M.R. The
November 10 Letter also requested expungement of M.R.'s record
with respect to his recent suspension. Finally, the November 10
Letter requested that M.R.'s full school file be forwarded to
counsel for review.
In a letter addressed to Plaintiffs dated November 12, 1998,
the District advised Plaintiffs that the CSE would meet on
November 20, 1998 to discuss M.R.'s educational program. At the
meeting, which was not attended by Plaintiffs' counsel, the
District declined to classify M.R. as requested in the November
On November 24, 1998, Plaintiffs' counsel wrote to the
District's counsel stating that Plaintiffs disagreed with the
District's November 12, 1999 determination and again demanded
that a hearing be held regarding M.R.'s status (the "November 24
Letter"). The November 24 Letter stated that the matter could be
settled if the District agreed to change its decision regarding
the classification of M.R., provide for a functional behavioral
assessment, develop an individualized behavior intervention plan
and provide counseling to M.R.
On December 10, 1998, the District CSE again met to discuss
M.R.'s status. At that meeting, it was decided that M.R. would be
classified, as requested by counsel, as "Other Health Impaired."
It was further decided that M.R. would attend special classes in
an program located outside of the District. Plaintiffs consented
to the placement and M.R. remains in that placement to date.
On March 12, 1999, Plaintiffs' counsel wrote to the District's
counsel stating that his clients were prevailing parties in
proceedings with the District and requested reimbursement of
approximately $2,000 in attorney fees. Counsel attached an
itemized invoice detailing how his time was spent in the matter.
Shortly thereafter, counsel for the District advised Plaintiffs'
counsel of the District's belief that Plaintiffs ...