458 F.3d 755 (8th Cir. 2006), 03-3717, Drennan v. Pulaski County Special School Dist.

Docket Nº:03-3717.
Citation:458 F.3d 755
Party Name:Lea DRENNAN, Plaintiff--Appellant, v. PULASKI COUNTY SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant--Appellee.
Case Date:August 14, 2006
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
 
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458 F.3d 755 (8th Cir. 2006)

Lea DRENNAN, Plaintiff--Appellant,

v.

PULASKI COUNTY SPECIAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, Defendant--Appellee.

No. 03-3717.

United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

August 14, 2006

Submitted: August 5, 2004

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Sharon Carden Streett and Theresa L. Caldwell, Little Rock, AR, for appellant.

Gregory T. Jones, Little Rock, AR, for appellee.

Before MELLOY, LAY, and COLLOTON, Circuit Judges.

MELLOY, Circuit Judge.

Lea Drennan (Drennan), as a parent of disabled child J.R. Drennan (J.R.), brought this action for attorney's fees and costs incurred in an administrative proceeding pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. §§1400-1487 (IDEA).1 Drennan alleges she was a

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prevailing party at a due process hearing with the Arkansas Department of Education in which a Hearing Officer directed the Pulaski County Special School District (School District) to provide extended-year services to J.R. for the next two calendar school years. The district court2 concluded that Drennan's claim was barred by the statute of limitations. In the alternative, the district court concluded that Drennan was not a prevailing party. We affirm.

J.R. was enrolled in the School District, which provided him with special education services under an Individual Education Plan. He had diagnoses including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, oppositional defiant disorder and depression. The IDEA requires the School District to provide a "free appropriate public education" in the least restrictive environment for the student. 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401(9) and 1412(a)(1), (a)(5).

Parents of disabled children are entitled to specific procedural safeguards to ensure proper programming and placement for their children, including an impartial due process hearing to challenge any decision made by a local educational agency. 20 U.S.C. § 1415(f)(1). Further, under the Handicapped Children's Protection Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B), courts may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to parents or guardians who prevail in any action or proceeding under 20 U.S.C. § 1415 challenging the decision made by the local educational agency.

In this case, a dispute arose concerning the least restrictive environment for J.R.'s education. Specifically...

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