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Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy

548 U.S. 291, 126 S. Ct. 2455, 165 L. Ed. 2d 526 (2006)

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Arlington Central School District Board of Education v. Murphy

United States Supreme Court

548 U.S. 291, 126 S. Ct. 2455, 165 L. Ed. 2d 526 (2006)

Facts

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) allowed parents to sue their local schoolboards to acquire certain educational accommodations for disabled children. IDEA also allowed courts to award prevailing parents “reasonable attorney’s fees as part of the costs” of bringing the action. Prior to passage of IDEA, a conference report was issued, clarifying that the language “reasonable attorney’s fees as part of the costs” included educational testing and reimbursement of expert fees. The conference report was unopposed, but the final version of IDEA did not incorporate this clarifying language. Pearl and Theodore Murphy (plaintiffs) won an IDEA lawsuit against the Arlington Central School District Board of Education (defendant) on behalf of their son, Joseph. The Murphys then sought an award of fees for the services of Marilyn Arons, an educational expert who had guided them through their lawsuit. The district court awarded $8,500 for Arons’s services, and the court of appeals affirmed the award. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Alito, J.)

Concurrence (Ginsburg, J.)

Dissent (Breyer, J.)

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