GM v. New Britain Board of Education

173 F.3d 77 (1999)

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GM v. New Britain Board of Education

United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
173 F.3d 77 (1999)

  • Written by Alexander Hager-DeMyer, JD

Facts

GM (plaintiff) was a student with learning disabilities who attended a high school operated by the New Britain Board of Education (board) (defendant). As required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the board created a planning and placement team (team) to develop an individualized education program (IEP) for GM. GM’s advocate and a teacher disagreed over the effectiveness of GM’s IEP. The advocate requested an independent evaluation of GM’s educational needs, possibly conducted by a particular doctor, but the board’s representative refused to approve the evaluation unless the evaluation was proven necessary. At a later meeting, the team rejected a proposal to implement a community-based curriculum for GM. GM’s guardian requested a full administrative hearing to address concerns with GM’s IEP and the board’s refusal to approve an independent evaluation. The hearing began, but GM and the board reached an agreement to conduct the independent evaluation. The evaluation recommended implementing a majority of the community-based curriculum that had been rejected, and the board and GM stipulated to implement the recommendations. The hearing officer accepted the stipulation as the final decision of the case. GM filed suit in federal district court, seeking attorney’s fees and costs from the administrative proceeding. The district court granted summary judgment to the board, finding that GM was not a prevailing party in the proceeding and could not receive costs or attorney’s fees. GM appealed to the Second Circuit.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Calabresi, J.)

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