Irvine Unified School Dist. v. K.G.

Minor who prevailed on administrative action to assure his right to a free and appropriate education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was considered a prevailing party for purposes of subsequent lawsuit filed by school district which sought to force other public entities to pay for his education.  After KG was released from juvenile hall, he filed an administrative action to assure his right to a free and appropriate education under the IDEA.  The ALJ entered a decision in KG’s favor.  Irvine then filed suit trying to force other public entities to pay for KG’s education.  The suit named KG as a defendant, though he graduated from high school shortly after the suit was filed.  This decision holds that KG was a prevailing party based on his victory before the ALJ at a time when it mattered whether he was entitled to a free education.  As Irvine filed suit trying to take some of that victory away and naming KG as a defendant, he was entitled to fees in the ensuing court action as well.  However, the district court should reconsider the amount of fees to be awarded since it appeared that the litigation was no longer of any concern to KG once he had graduated from high school, and it might be inappropriate for a fee award for the attorney’s efforts after that point.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (O’Scannlain, J.; Callahan, J., concurring & dissenting in part); April 13, 2017; 2017 WL 1359481

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