We take this opportunity to remind you that parents who prevail in a special education case are entitled to recover attorneys’ fees. Those fees can add up. In a case from Ohio, the parties are still wrangling over the amount of fees to be recovered. The parents’ sought over $800,000. That’s a lot of attorney time, but you have to take into account that the case has gone on for years, including the latest decision by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appellate court was reviewing the work of the district court which had rejected that $800K request. Instead, the court held that the parents could recover only $327,941 (only?). Now the appellate court has vacated any fee award. This does not mean that the parents are not going to recover attorneys’ fees. They will recover fees because they successfully proved that the school district denied FAPE to the student by botching the transition plan. The argument now is only over “how much?” The court vacated the fee award because the lower court had not provided an adequate explanation for the reduction from $800k to $327k.
So the beat goes on. Lawyers arguing over FAPE turns into lawyers arguing over attorneys’ fees and then lawyers arguing over the adequacy of an explanation. Surely, there is a better way to handle special education disputes.
The case is Gibson v. Forest Hills Local School District Board of Education, decided by the 6th Circuit on July 15, 2016. We found it at 68 IDELR 33.
DAWG BONE: ATTORNEYS FEES SPENT ON PREVENTION OF LEGAL PROBLEMS CAN OFTEN PREVENT THIS KIND OF MESS.
File this one under: SPECIAL EDUCATION