The opinion of the court was delivered by: DUFF
BRIAN BARNETT DUFF, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Stephen Reid is a child in need of special educational services. His parents, believing that his school district
was not adequately providing for Stephen, obtained services they considered appropriate at their own expense, and then initiated administrative proceedings in order to force the school district to pay for them. Although they were successful in the administrative action, their problems were not yet over -- claiming that the school board will not abide by the administrative decision, they filed a civil action to force it to do so, as well as to collect their attorneys' fees. Although the Reids filed their complaint in state court, the defendants removed it to this court because the claim arises under federal law, specifically the Education of the Handicapped Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400(a) et seq. (EHA). The defendants have moved to dismiss the Reids' complaint, arguing that they have no remedy at law. For the reasons discussed below, this court grants in part and denies in part defendants' motions.
The district had classified Stephen Reid as a child in need of special educational services since the time he arrived there in 1984. By January, 1989, the team responsible for evaluating Stephen recommended that he be placed in a residential school. Unfortunately, at that time there were no openings available in the school chosen by the team. The district therefore placed Stephen in a public school as an interim measure until a spot became available in the residential school. In February Stephen's parents, believing that his condition was fast deteriorating, removed him from the public school and placed him in a hospital. He remained there until March, when he was finally admitted to the residential school.
Stephen's parents, dissatisfied with the district's psychological evaluation and placement of their son, requested an administrative hearing in which the district's plan, including the decision to place Stephen in public school, could be evaluated. They received a "Level I" hearing, in accordance with the Illinois School Code, 122 Ill.Rev.Stat. par. 14-8.02(h), and the hearing officer decided in their favor. The Special Education District of Lake County (SEDOL) and the district appealed the decision, which was affirmed after a "Level II" hearing. None of the parties appealed that decision, it is therefore final and binding.
The Level II officer ordered the Reids to submit itemized bills for the expenses they had incurred for hospitalizing Stephen. The Reids submitted a partially itemized bill, but the bill did not itemize the costs of the case study they had obtained. The district therefore solicited two independent estimates for each component of the case study and awarded the higher of the two to the Reids. That amount, however, was still "far less" than the amount the Reids actually paid for the case study.
After the school district paid the Reids, it sent a letter to William Charis, a supervisor in the Special Education Department of the Administrative Offices of the Illinois State Board of Education in charge of monitoring compliance with the Level II order, as proof of compliance with the order. Mr. Charis then sent a letter to the Reids and the district stating that the district was in compliance with the Level II order.
1. Education of the Handicapped Act.
Congress passed the Education of the Handicapped Act (EHA or the Act) 84 Stat. 175, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., in order to:
In passing the law in 1975, Congress cited evidence indicating that there were more than eight million handicapped children in the United States, Id. at 1400(b)(1), that the special educational needs of such children were not being fully met; Id. at 1400(b)(2) and that more than half of the handicapped children in the United States did not receive appropriate educational services which would enable them to have full equality of opportunity. Id. at 1400(b)(3). Congress additionally found that "state and local educational agencies have a responsibility to provide education for all handicapped children, but present financial resources are inadequate to meet the special needs of handicapped children and it is in the nation's interest that the federal ...