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Attorney fees in due process hearings under IDEA

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The federal regulations for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes many provisions to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability while also giving families and school systems means by which to resolve disputes. These rights are known as procedural safeguards. Parents have specific rights under this law regarding attorney fees for due process decisions under 34 CFR &300.517.

In regard to attorneys’ fees, in any action or proceeding brought under Part B of the IDEA, if you prevail, the court may at its discretion award reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the costs to you.

However, in any action or proceeding brought under Part B of the IDEA, the court in its discretion may also award reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the costs to a prevailing State education agency or school district to be paid by your attorney. This may occur if the attorney filed a complaint or a court case that the court finds is frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation or the attorney continued to litigate after the litigation clearly became frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.

In any action or proceeding brought under Part B of the IDEA, the court, in its discretion, may award reasonable attorneys’ fees as part of the costs to a prevailing State education agency or school district, to be paid by you or your attorney if your request for a due process hearing or later court case was presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, to cause unnecessary delay or to unnecessarily increase the cost of the action or proceeding.

A court awards reasonable attorneys’ fees based on rates in the prevailing community for the kind and quality of services furnished. Fees may not be awarded and related costs may not be reimbursed after a written offer of settlement is made under the time frames listed in Part B of the IDEA, the offer is not accepted and the relief is not more favorable than the settlement. Fees may not be awarded to any meeting of the Individualized Education Plan team unless the meeting is held as a result of an administrative proceeding or court action. Fees are also not awarded for mediation or resolution meetings.

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