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Douglas v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

September 4, 2014

JAYSHAWN DOUGLAS, Plaintiff,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Defendant

Page 37

For Jayshawn Douglas, Plaintiff: Steve Nabors, LEAD ATTORNEY, MORAN AND ASSOCIATES Washington, DC; Charles Anthony Moran, LAW OFFICES OF CHARLES A. MORAN, Washington, DC; Jehan A. Patterson, PUBLIC CITIZEN LITIGATION GROUP, Washington, DC.

For District of Columbia, Defendant: Laura George, LEAD ATTORNEY, OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL/DC, Washington, DC.

Page 38

OPINION AND ORDER

PAUL L. FRIEDMAN, United States District Judge.

This action was filed under 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j) and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to enforce the rights of plaintiff Jayshawn Douglas under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (" IDEA" ), 20 U.S.C. § § 1400 et seq.

Page 39

This Court previously entered a " stay-put" order, granting relief on plaintiff's Section 1415(j) claim. Pursuant to the IDEA, plaintiff seeks attorneys' fees and costs incurred in pursuing the " stay-put" order, totaling $25,499.65. The District of Columbia opposes the motion, arguing that plaintiff is not a " prevailing party" and thus is not entitled to fees and costs; and, in the alternative, it argues that the fees should be substantially reduced. Upon consideration of the parties' papers, the relevant legal authorities, and pertinent portions of the record in this case, the Court will grant plaintiff's motion in part and deny it in part, and will award attorneys' fees and costs in the amount of $17,009.62, representing $16,034.00 in attorneys' fees and $975.62 in costs.[1]

I. BACKGROUND

The facts are summarized as relevant. The Court's prior memorandum opinions provide more detail. See Mem. Op. at 3-5; MTD Op. at 2-3. Jayshawn Douglas is an eighteen-year old resident of the District of Columbia. Compl. ¶ ¶ 5-6, 8. He is a student with disabilities who has been classified as " Other Health Impaired" under the IDEA. Compl. ¶ 8. Mr. Douglas' individualized education program (" IEP" ) states that his current placement is the Twilight Program at Dunbar Senior High School (" Dunbar" ), an extended school day program for qualifying at-risk students. IEP at 17; see also Compl. ¶ 17.

Prior to the 2013-2014 school year, staff of the District of Columbia Public Schools (" DCPS" ), Mr. Douglas, and Mr. Douglas' parent discussed changing Mr. Douglas' assignment from Dunbar to another school or program. Resolution Sess. Tr. 8-9. Although DCPS proposed transferring him, no transfer was completed. When Mr. Douglas attempted to attend classes at Dunbar several times in Fall 2013, Dunbar staff did not permit him to enter the school. Compl. ¶ ¶ 18-21.

On October 28, 2013, Mr. Douglas filed an administrative due process complaint challenging, among other things, Dunbar's refusal to admit him. Compl. ¶ 22; Due Process Compl. Although his administrative complaint was assigned to a hearing officer, Mr. Douglas filed the instant complaint in this Court on November 7, 2013. The complaint alleges that the District's refusal to allow Mr. Douglas access to his educational placement violated the " stay-put" provision of the IDEA, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(j), and 42 U.S.C. § 1983.[2] Mr. Douglas simultaneously filed a motion for a preliminary injunction and a motion for a temporary restraining order, both also

Page 40

seeking the " stay-put" order sought in Count One of his complaint. On November 14, 2013, this Court granted Mr. Douglas' motion for a preliminary injunction, issuing a " stay-put" order, and denying the motion for a temporary restraining order as moot. Mem. Op. at 5-6. The District since has allowed Mr. Douglas to return to Dunbar and attend the " Twilight Program." Fee Opp. at 3.

Mr. Douglas now moves for an award of $25,499.65 in attorneys' fees and costs associated with obtaining ...


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