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Smith v. Imagine Hope Community Public Charter School

United States District Court, District of Columbia

March 29, 2013

THOMIKA SMITH, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
IMAGINE HOPE COMMUNITY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, Defendant

For THOMIKA SMITH, As parent and next friend of minor T.M., T.M., individually, Plaintiffs: Donna L Wulkan, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF DONNA L. WULKAN, Washington, DC.

For IMAGINE HOPE COMMUNITY PUBLIC CHARTER SCHOOL, Defendant: Lauren E. Baum, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW OFFICE OF LAUREN E. BAUM, P.C., Washington, DC.

OPINION

Page 133

DEBORAH. A. ROBINSON, United States Magistrate Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiffs Thomika Smith and her daughter T.M. commenced this action seeking attorneys' fees and costs that they incurred in pursuing an administrative action pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq. See Complaint (Document No. 1). This action was referred to the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge for all purposes. Order of Referral (Document No. 21); Joint Notice (Document No. 20).

Pending for determination by the undersigned are Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (" Plaintiffs' Motion" ) (Document No. 13) and Imagine Hope Community Public Charter School's Cross Motion for Summary Judgment (" Defendant's Motion" ) (Document No. 15). Upon consideration of the motions; the exhibits to the motions; the memoranda in support thereof and opposition thereto; the administrative record; and the entire record herein, the undersigned will deny Plaintiffs' motion and grant in part Defendant's motion. [1]

Page 134

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff T.M. is a student with disabilities who attended Defendant Imagine Hope Community Pubic Charter School for the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years. Complaint ¶ ¶ 1, 4. In November 2010, Plaintiffs filed an administrative due process complaint against Defendant. Administrative Record (Document No. 12) at 1-4. [2] Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant denied T.M. a free appropriate public education (" FAPE" ) by failing " to identify [T.M.] as a student eligible for special education and related services" ; failing " to fully or comprehensively evaluate [T.M.] in all areas of her disability" ; and by failing " to develop an appropriate IEP" for the two school years that she attended Imagine Hope Community Public Charter School and " before the start of the 2010-2011 School Year." Id. at 5-7.

On December 10, 2010, prior to the administrative hearing, the parties executed a settlement agreement. Id. at 15-16. Pursuant to the terms of the agreement, Defendant agreed to fund eighty hours of independent tutoring and enrollment in a speech and language camp. Id. at 15. The agreement also included a provision stipulating that Defendant " agrees to pay reasonable and documented attorney fees and related costs incurred in this matter." Id.

Thereafter, Plaintiffs withdrew their due process complaint, id. at 17, and the hearing officer dismissed the matter, id. at 19. Counsel for Plaintiffs sent counsel for Defendant an invoice requesting $17,096.68 in attorneys' fees and costs. Plaintiffs' Motion, Exhibit 1. Counsel for both parties conferred regarding the requested amount, see Plaintiffs' Motion, Exhibits 2-6, but were unable to reach an agreement. Defendant paid $6,415.68, see Plaintiffs' Motion, Exhibit 6, and Plaintiffs withdrew $1,579 from their request, see Plaintiffs' Motion, Exhibit 14, leaving the parties in dispute over $9,102. See Plaintiffs' Memorandum of Points and Authorities in Support of Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment (" Plaintiffs' ...


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