21 F.3d 49 (4th Cir. 1994), 92-1525, S-1 and S-2 By and Through P-1 and P-2 v. State Bd. of Educ. of North Carolina

Docket Nº:92-1525.
Citation:21 F.3d 49
Party Name:S-1 AND S-2, By and Through their parents and Guardians Ad Litem, P-1 AND P-2; P-1 and P-2, Individually, Plaintiffs-Appellees, v. The STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF NORTH CAROLINA; Barbara Tapscott, Chairman, State Board of Education of North Carolina, Defendants-Appellants, and C.D. Heidgerd, Hearing Officer, Asheboro City Board of Education; The As
Case Date:April 04, 1994
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
 
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21 F.3d 49 (4th Cir. 1994)

S-1 AND S-2, By and Through their parents and Guardians Ad

Litem, P-1 AND P-2; P-1 and P-2, Individually,

Plaintiffs-Appellees,

v.

The STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF NORTH CAROLINA; Barbara

Tapscott, Chairman, State Board of Education of

North Carolina, Defendants-Appellants,

and

C.D. Heidgerd, Hearing Officer, Asheboro City Board of

Education; The Asheboro City Board of Education;

Mary Smitherman, Defendants.

No. 92-1525.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

April 4, 1994

Argued March 8, 1994.

Page 50

ARGUED: Edwin Marion Speas, Jr., Sr. Deputy Atty. Gen., North Carolina Dept. of Justice, Raleigh, NC, for appellants. A. Frank Johns, Jr., Booth, Harrington, Johns & Campbell, Greensboro, NC, for appellees. ON BRIEF: Lacy H. Thornburg, Atty. Gen. of NC, North Carolina Dept. of Justice, Raleigh, NC, for appellants.

Before ERVIN, Chief Judge, and RUSSELL, WIDENER, HALL, PHILLIPS, MURNAGHAN, WILKINSON, WILKINS, NIEMEYER, HAMILTON, LUTTIG, WILLIAMS, and MICHAEL, Circuit Judges, sitting en banc.

Reversed by published per curiam opinion. Judges RUSSELL, WIDENER, WILKINSON, WILKINS, NIEMEYER, LUTTIG, and WILLIAMS voted to reverse the district court. Chief Judge ERVIN and Judges K.K. HALL, PHILLIPS, MURNAGHAN, HAMILTON, and MICHAEL voted to affirm the district court.

OPINION

PER CURIAM:

Plaintiffs, parents of handicapped students enrolled in the Asheboro, North Carolina schools, filed this 42 U.S.C. Sec. 1983 action in 1986 against the Asheboro City Board of Education, the State Board of Education of North Carolina, and the chairman of the State Board, C.D. Spangler, Jr. Plaintiffs alleged that defendants had violated the Education of the Handicapped Act ("EHA"), 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1400 et seq., by refusing to authorize hearing officers to decide tuition reimbursement claims and to order reimbursement in appropriate cases. Plaintiffs therefore sought tuition reimbursement and injunctive and declaratory relief. In December 1986, the district court granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on their claims for declaratory and injunctive relief against all the defendants, reasoning that the EHA required that state hearing officers possess the authority to decide tuition reimbursement claims. See S-1 v. Spangler, 650 F.Supp. 1427 (M.D.N.C.1986).

While the appeal of the district court's ruling was pending, plaintiffs and the City Board reached a settlement agreement under which the City Board would pay the parents' tuition expenses for their children and also pay plaintiffs' attorneys' fees. The State Board and Spangler were not parties to this settlement agreement; accordingly, the parents did not dismiss any of their claims against the state defendants. Nonetheless, on appeal, a panel of this court held for

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prudential reasons that the settlement mooted the appeal because it gave plaintiffs the reimbursement they sought. See S-1 v. Spangler, 832 F.2d 294, 296 (4th Cir.1987). This court therefore vacated the district court's summary judgment order and remanded for a determination of plaintiffs' entitlement, if any, to attorneys' fees...

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