California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Collecting Attorney Fees

Can I collect attorney’s fees if I prevail against the district at a due process hearing?

Yes, as long as you file a claim for attorneys fees within two years. The award of attorneys fees, however, apply only to attorneys.  Fees paid for advocates or expert witnesses or are not reimbursable under a recent Supreme Court decision.

Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy, 126 S. Ct. 2455 (2006)

Also, the amount of attorneys fees awarded depends on the “degree of success” obtained at hearing. However, even when a parent brings a number of claims and only prevails on a few, that does not eliminate the potential for attorneys fees. A recent case in the Ninth Circuit involved a parent that brought twenty-seven claims and prevailed on only four. Justice Pregerson, concurring, stated that the few claims on which the parent prevailed might be the most substantial and thus the most deserving of reimbursement. Moreover, unsuccessful claims might be related or inseparable from successful claims and also require reimbursement.

Aguirre v. Los Angeles Unified School District, 461 F.3d 1114 (9th Cir. 2006)