The statute goes on to say that the court shall not reduce the amount of attorney's fees awarded for being excessive "if the court finds that the State or local educational agency unreasonably protracted the final resolution of the action or proceeding . . . ." 20 U.S.C. § 1415(e)(4)(G). This language indicates that the statute contemplates delay by the state or local government and will not reduce the amount of attorney's fees awarded where some of those fees were expended to address that delay.
The purpose of the statute awarding attorney's fees in special education disputes is to compensate plaintiffs who have been denied educational services to which they are legally entitled and have had to fight a legal battle to get those services. As the Court of Appeals made clear in Moore, it does not matter whether plaintiffs win at the administrative level or in district court. Where plaintiffs prevail, they are entitled to attorney's fees. In this case, the District of Columbia wishes to deny plaintiffs attorney's fees because they won a victory on paper at the administrative level. However, plaintiffs can hardly be said to have "prevailed" when the child in question had still not been placed weeks after the initial hearing officer's decision. Where plaintiffs were forced to come to court to get a meaningful decision, they are entitled to attorney's fees.
Accordingly, it is this 3rd day of December, 1991 hereby
ORDERED that plaintiffs' motion for an award of fees be granted and that defendants shall pay to plaintiffs, through counsel, the amount of $ 19,694.73 for fees and costs, said amount to be paid within ten days of this order.
United States District Court
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