D. Hawai'i Notes Split Re Statute of Limitations Applicable to IDEA Attorney's Fees Actions

Per Brandon E. v. Department of Educ., Slip Copy, 2008 WL 563478 (D. Hawai‘i Feb. 29, 2008):

There is a circuit split regarding the appropriate state statute of limitations to apply to actions for attorney's fees under the IDEA. See Holmes v. Dep't of Educ., 234 F.Supp.2d. 1156, 1158 (D .Haw.2002).

The Eleventh Circuit has held that the IDEA provides two separate and distinguishable procedures. See Zipperer v. Sch. Bd. of Seminole County, 111 F.3d 847, 851 (11th Cir.1997). Specifically, 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(2) provides for review of substantive decisions while 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3) provides for an independent claim for attorney's fees. Id. The Eleventh Circuit explained that “the short statute of limitations associated with appeals of administrative procedures, while appropriate when a child's Individualized Education Plan is at issue in a substantive appeal of an administrative determination, are too short to vindicate the underlying federal policies associated with the fee-claims provisions of the IDEA.” See Id.; see also, Kaseman v. District of Columbia, 329 F.Supp.2d 20, 25 (D.D.C.2004) (following the Eleventh Circuit's interpretation of fee actions under the IDEA).

The Sixth and Seventh Circuits have held that actions for attorney's fees under the IDEA are ancillary to the judicial review of the administrative hearing and should be governed by statutes dealing with judicial review of state agencies. See Powers v. Indiana Dep't of Educ., 61 F.3d 552, 555 (7th Cir.1995); King v. Floyd County Bd. of Educ., 228 F.3d 622, 625-26 (6th Cir.1999). Those jurisdictions held that the substantive review of administrative hearings and fee actions were sufficiently analogous under the IDEA to require similar limiting statutes. Id.


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