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Attorney Fees May Not Be Awarded When a Student Is Not Eligible under the IDEA

In the case of Burton v. Cleveland Hts. Univ. Hts. Bd. of Edn., 6th Cir. No. 18-3595, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 19499 (June 27, 2019), the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a parent was not entitled to attorney fees without showing that the child was a “child with a disability” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”).

In this case, a parent initiated due process proceedings against a school board for denying the student a free appropriate public education. While the parent proved that the student had a disability, the parent did not prove that the student was eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA. Nonetheless, the parent sought to collect attorney fees as a “prevailing party” under the IDEA.

The Sixth Circuit rejected the request for attorney fees as the student was not found to be eligible for special education and related services under the IDEA.

To read this case, here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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