The opinion of the court was delivered by: GLADYS KESSLER, District Judge
Plaintiffs, minor children and the parents, guardians, and
court-appointed advocates of minor children,*fn1 seek to collect
attorney's fees and other costs incurred in bringing successful
administrative actions under the Individuals With Disabilities Education
Act ("IDEA"), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq., Defendant is the
Government of the District of Columbia. This matter is before the Court
on Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment. Upon consideration of the
Motion, Opposition, Reply, and the entire record herein, and for the
reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment is
IDEA guarantees "all children with disabilities" "a free appropriate
public education that emphasizes special education and related services
designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and
independent living." 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d)(1)(A). As a condition of
receiving funds under the Act, IDEA requires school districts> to adopt
procedures to ensure appropriate educational placement of disabled
students. See 20 U.S.C. § 1413. In addition, school
districts> must develop comprehensive plans for meeting the special
educational needs of disabled students. See
20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(2)(A). These plans are known as "individualized education
programs," or IEPs, and must include "a statement of the child's present
levels of educational performance, . . . a statement of measurable
annual goals, [and] a statement of the special education and related
services . . . to be provided to the child. . . ."
20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(A).
IDEA also guarantees parents of disabled children an opportunity to
participate in the identification, evaluation, and placement process. See
20 U.S.C. § 1414 (f), 1415(b)(1). Parents who object to their
child's "identification, evaluation, or educational placement" are
entitled to an "impartial due process hearing,"
20 U.S.C. § 1415(b)(6), (f)(1), at which they have a "right to be
accompanied and advised by counsel."
20 U.S.C. § 1415 (h)(1). Parents "aggrieved by" a hearing officer's
findings and decision may bring a civil action in either state or federal
court without regard to the amount in controversy. 20 U.S.C. § 1415
B. The Instant Litigation
The case underlying the instant fee litigation was brought by minor
children and the parents, guardians, and court-appointed advocates of
minor children who claimed that the District of Columbia Public Schools
("DCPS") had failed to provide the children with appropriate special
education and related services in violation of IDEA. Each Plaintiff, by
virtue of a separate IDEA administrative due process hearing, was found
to be entitled to special education and related services.
After winning on the merits of their cases, Plaintiffs filed this
action for attorney's fees and other costs under § 1415(i)(3)(B)
of the IDEA. This statute gives courts the authority to "award reasonable
attorneys' fees as part of the costs to the parents of a child with a
disability who is the prevailing party." 20 U.S.C. § 1415 (i)(3)
(B). See Moore v. District of Columbia, 907 F.2d 165 (D.C. Cir.
1990) (en banc) (holding that IDEA authorizes a parent who prevails in an
IDEA administrative hearing to recover attorney's fees). Defendants
concede that Plaintiffs are "prevailing parties" for the purposes of
§ 1415(i)(3)(B) and as such are entitled to an award of
"reasonable attorneys' fees" under the statute.
Between November 22, 2002 and January 31, 2003, Plaintiffs' counsel,
Elizabeth T. Jester, timely submitted to the DCPS nine invoices for
attorney's fees and other costs incurred in bringing successful IDEA
administrative actions on behalf of each Plaintiff. DCPS reviewed the
invoices and "identified specific items for non-payment that it did not
deem reasonable." Def.'s Opp'n, at 3.*fn2 See id., Attach. B
("Disputed Items List"). In accordance with this Disputed Items List,
DCPS either reduced or denied altogether the amount requested.
The following chart summarizes (1) the invoices for attorney's fees and
other costs submitted by Plaintiffs' counsel on behalf of each Plaintiff;
(2) any payment made by DCPS; and (3) the amount Plaintiffs claim is
Plaintiff Plaintiffs' Invoice DCPS Payment Difference
Jayvon Williams $4,451.90 $2,547.00 ...