UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
Mrs. D., on her own behalf
and as mother of John D.,
V. CIVIL ACTION NO.
March 15, 1996
Superintendent of Stafford Public
THE STAFFORD BOARD OF EDUCATION
I. Preliminary Statement
1. This action is brought by Mrs. D. and seeks reasonable attorneys’ fees pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA) 20 U.S.C. §1401 et seq..
2. This Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §1415(e)(4).
3. Plaintiff Mrs. D. is the mother of a child with disabilities, John D, who resided with Mrs. D. in Stafford, Connecticut during the time of the action giving rise to this Complaint.
4. Defendant George Apuzzi is the superintendent of the Stafford Board of Education.
5. Defendant Stafford Board of Education is established by the laws of the State of Connecticut with the responsibility of providing education, including special education, to disabled children residing in Stafford. The Stafford Board of Education receives federal funds from the United States Department of Education pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
IV. Factual Allegations
6. On May 12, 1995 Mrs. D. requested a special education hearing from the State of Connecticut to resolve disputed issues between herself and the Stafford Board of Education, concerning the provision of special education to John D. (Attachment A).
7. Attorneys Garrett Tuller and Anne Louise Blanchard, attorneys with Connecticut Legal Services, Inc. (CLS) represented Mrs. D. at the hearing. CLS is a non-profit law firm providing legal representation to individuals unable to pay for legal representation privately.
8. Mrs. D’s hearing request stated that the defendant Board had failed to provide a free appropriate public education to her son John pursuant to C.G.S. 10-76d, the IDEA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
9. In her hearing request, Mrs. D. also stated that the defendants had:
a. failed to evaluate John for special education identification,
b. failed to identify John as a special education student,
c. inappropriately removed school credit after John’s health disability caused numerous absences,
d. requested an order that defendants provide John with reimbursement for psychological services and to provide compensatory education.
10. On June 12, 1995 State of Connecticut Hearing Officer Susan A. Carlson convened a special education due process hearing to address the issues in dispute.
11. The hearing reconvened two additional times, on October 18, 1995 and January 9, 1996.
12. Additionally, the hearing officer convened two telephone conference calls on September 7, 1995 and October 27, 1995 as well as an additional telephone conference on the record, on December 14, 1995.
13. The hearing convened for the final time on January 9, 1996.
14. At the January 9th, 1996 due process hearing, Attorney Blanchard successfully negotiated a stipulation favoring Mrs. D., which was entered into the record at the hearing. (See Attachment B).
15. In that stipulation, the defendant Board agreed to all of Mrs. D’s requests set out in the May 12, 1995 hearing request. 16. Specifically, the defendant Board agreed to:
a. identify John as an other health impaired student, entitled to a free appropriate public education under the IDEA and to accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and Connecticut Agency Regulations.
b. provide written documentation of John’s current credit status.
c. reimburse Mrs. D. for the $700.00 spent on psychological counseling with Dr. H. for John during the 1994-1995 school year.
d. continue to provide tutorial to John as compensatory education through the 1995-1996 school year.
17. Additionally, in the stipulation the Board agreed to develop an academic and counseling Individual Education Program for John, provide counseling for him, reimburse Mrs. D. for education related expenses, and provide and fund the independent evaluations completed during the hearing.
18. The parties also agreed that nothing in the stipulated agreement should be construed as a waiver of the parent’s right to seek attorney’s fees.
19. On January 17, 1996 pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and on behalf of Mrs. D., Connecticut Legal Services requested payment of attorney’s fees and costs totalling $13,008.75 from the Stafford Board of Education. The request included detailed contemporaneous time records explaining the time Mrs. D.’s attorneys spent representing her. (Attachment B).
20. This figure included sixty-two hours and forty-five minutes (62.45) expended by Attorney Blanchard at $145.00 hour, and approximately thirty-nine hours at $125.00 per hour for the time expended by Attorney Tuller, with travel time billed at fifty percent of the regular hourly rate.
21. The figure also included twenty-five dollars and seventy-five cents ($25.75) expended in costs associated with the hearing.
22. On February 15, 1996 Hearing Officer Carlson issued her Final Decision and Order, adopting Sections 1-15 of the Stipulated Agreement as her Final Decision and Order, excluding paragraphs 12 and 15, over which she had no jurisdiction. (Attachment C).
23. On March 5, 1996 Mrs. D., through counsel, again requested attorneys’ fees from the Stafford Board of Education. (Attachment D).
24. To date, the Board has not made any offer in response to the parent’s request for fees.
V. Cause Of Action
25. Paragraphs one through twenty-four are incorporated by reference as if fully set forth herein.
26. Plaintiff, as the prevailing party under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs for legal representation by Connecticut Legal Services.
WHEREFORE, plaintiff prays for the following relief:
1. That this Court take jurisdiction of this matter.
2. That, pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, this Court award plaintiff reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs of $13,008.75, in addition to attorney’s fees and costs for the representation provided in this action.
3. Any additional relief this Court deems appropriate.
Anne Louise Blanchard
CONNECTICUT LEGAL SERVICES, INC.
P.O. Box 258
872 Main Street
Willimantic, CT 06226
Federal Bar No. #XXXXXX Tel. (860) 456-1762
Attorney for Plaintiffs