Z.S. v. Neptune Board of Education

  • Z.S. v. Neptune Bd of Ed (2007)

    DREDF has signed on to an amicus brief in the Third Circuit in Z.S. v. Neptune Bd of Ed., a case involving the issue of entitlement to attorneys fees under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In contrast to the ubiquitous Buckhannon dilemmas, involving issues of what constitutes judgment on the merits or court ordered relief, this case involves a new conundrum, having to do with whether a plaintiff who obtained Buckhannon-sanctioned relief can nevertheless be denied fees because there was never a formal determination that the child in question had a disability. The District Court held that the IDEA only permits fees to those pursuing the rights of a child with a disability, and thus explicit finding that the plaintiff has a disability is a prerequisite to fees. Amici are arguing that this is an inappropriate requirement to insert into a statute that guarantees the right to a determination of whether disability exists (e.g., evaluation obligations). Thus, anyone obtaining an order for an evaluation (regardless of the result of the evaluation) has indeed prevailed in securing IDEA relief.