The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
On April 7, 2010, Plaintiffs Brianna O., a minor, and Anne O., individually and as parent and next friend of Brianna ("Plaintiffs"), filed the present lawsuit against Defendant Board of Education of the City of Chicago, District 299 (the "District") for attorney's fees and costs pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). See 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B). Before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(c). For the following reasons, the Court grants in part and denies in part both the District's and Plaintiffs' motions for summary judgment. The Court, in its discretion, awards Plaintiffs $31,491.60 in attorney's fees and costs pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1415(i)(3)(B), plus 3.25% prejudgment interest, and dismisses this lawsuit in its entirety.
Brianna suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. (R. 23, Pls.' Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, ¶ 6.) She has received special education services since Kindergarten, and in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, see 34 C.F.R. § 300.301, Brianna receives an individualized education program ("IEP") to help her reach academic standards. (Id. at ¶ 5.) Her school district of residence is Chicago Public School ("CPS") District No. 299. (Id.) At the time of the due process hearing at issue in this lawsuit, Brianna was 9 years old and preparing to enter the 4th Grade. (Id.)
In 2007-2008, when Brianna was in 2nd Grade, her teacher reported that she was having difficulty staying on task, and that she seemed to lack confidence in trying new tasks, particularly in math. (Id. at ¶ 8.) The teacher made adjustments designed to address Brianna's learning difficulties, but Brianna continued to struggle. (Id. at ¶¶ 8, 9.) In January 2008, the team of professionals who created and monitored her IEP (the "IEP team") agreed to provide Brianna 150 minutes per week ("mpw") of additional math support with a special education teacher. (Id. at ¶ 8.) As a result of this additional support, Brianna's math grades, and her confidence in the classroom, improved. (Id.; R. 23-1, Ex. A - Illinois State Board of Education Decision & Order ("ISBE Order") at A-3; R. 18, Def.'s Rule 56.1 Stmt. Facts, Ex. A - ISBE Order at A-3.)
When Brianna entered 3rd Grade in the Fall of 2008, the IEP team eliminated the 150 mpw of additional math support from her IEP. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 10.) Brianna's mother requested an IEP meeting to consider reinstating the additional 150 mpw of support. (Id. at ¶ 11.) On September 24, 2008, following a meeting with Brianna's mother, her teacher, her case manager, and a special education teacher,*fn1 the IEP team declined to reinstate the additional services. (Id.) Brianna's mother continued to seek reinstatement of the additional support, and on October 27, 2008, another meeting took place.*fn2 (ISBE Order at A-5.) At that meeting, the IEP team agreed that they would observe Brianna, gather additional data regarding her needs, and reconvene on November 6, 2008 to discuss the next steps. (Id.)
The November 6 IEP meeting occurred as-scheduled, and once again the IEP team declined to reinstate the 150 mpw of additional services for Brianna. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 12.) Brianna's mother and teacher both filed written dissents, arguing that Brianna needed additional math support services. (Id.; ISBE Order at A-6.) Based on their written dissents, a subsequent IEP meeting took place on November 21, 2008. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 14.) At that meeting, the IEP team created an "interim" IEP that provided Brianna with 150 mpw of additional math support with a special education teacher. (ISBE Order at A-7.) The IEP team agreed to meet again on December 17, 2008 to assess Brianna's progress. (Id.)
The December 17 IEP meeting did not take place. (Id.) By that time, as discussed further below, Brianna's mother had filed a formal due process complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education ("ISBE"). (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 13.) Despite her mother's repeated requests, the District never convened another IEP meeting regarding Brianna's education. (ISBE Order at A-8.)
Although the District failed to convene any further IEP meetings, Brianna's school continued to provide Brianna with 150 mpw of additional math support for the remainder of her 3rd Grade year. (Id.)
A. Plaintiffs' New Requests at the November 21, 2008 IEP Meeting
In addition to asking for 150 mpw of math support at the November 21 IEP meeting, Brianna's mother raised several other, non-math related requests for the first time. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 15; ISBE Order at A-7.) Specifically, she asked the District to: (1) refer Brianna for an assistive technology ("AT") evaluation; (2) administer specific tests to determine whether Brianna had a non-verbal learning disability; and (3) provide Brianna with 200 mpw of special education instruction in writing. (Id.) The IEP team agreed to the first request, presented a compromise offer on the second request, and denied the third request. (ISBE Order at A-7.) On November 24, Brianna's mother submitted a letter of dissent with regard to the District's denials. (Id.)
Brianna's mother retained attorney Nelly Aguilar ("Ms. Aguilar") on January 2, 2009, to represent her and her daughter in the due process hearing she had requested. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 16.) Nine days later, on January 11th, her mother also retained Mauk & O'Connor LLP to assist in the representation. (Id. at ¶ 17.)
ISBE did not convene the due process hearing until August 3, 2009. (Id. at ¶ 18.) In the interim, several things occurred. First, the parties participated in an unsuccessful resolution conference on January 27, 2009. (ISBE Order at A-15.) Second, following that conference, Plaintiffs asked the District to provide an independent educational evaluation ("IEE") for Brianna. (Id. at A-8.) The District denied Plaintiffs' request, and as a result, Plaintiffs retained: two psychologists, Dr. Hoeppner and Dr. Raviv, to assess Brianna's cognitive skills; Dr. Marsden-Johnson, to conduct an assistive technology ("AT") evaluation of Brianna to determine whether AT products might help Brianna improve her writing skills; and Dr. Gouze, a licensed clinical psychologist, to assess behavioral concerns Brianna's mother was having about her daughter. (Id. at A-8, A-9). Third, Brianna's mother -- herself and through her counsel -- continued to ask the District to hold an IEP meeting. (Id. at A-15.) Those requests appear to have gone unanswered. (Id.)
C. The District's July 23, 2009 Offer of Settlement
On July 23, 2009, the District presented Plaintiffs with an Offer of Settlement (the "Offer"). The District offered the following:
1. To convene an IEP revision meeting in order to make the following changes to Brianna's IEP:
a. Provide 200 mpw special education instruction in mathematics in the regular education classroom setting, and not less than 40 mpw special education instruction in mathematics in a separate classroom;
b. Review and consider Plaintiffs' consultants' evaluations, and adopt any recommendations the IEP team deems appropriate and necessary to meet Brianna's educational needs;
c. Provide AT training to Brianna's mother and teachers regarding any of Dr. Marsden-Johnson's recommendations that the IEP team adopts;
d. Revise the IEP to include a goal to address Brianna's organizational needs; and
e. Consider and incorporate any of the consultants' recommended visual accommodations and modifications that the IEP team finds appropriate to meet Brianna's educational needs.
2. To reimburse Plaintiffs up to $300.00 for expenses relating to Dr. MarsdenJohnson's AT evaluation.
3. As compensatory services, to provide ten (10) sixty-minute, one-on-one tutoring sessions to Brianna outside the regular school day, to be conducted by a certified teacher.
(Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 24; R. 18-4, Def.'s Stmt. Facts, Ex. D.)
Plaintiffs rejected the Offer on July 26, 2009. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 24; R. 18-5, Def.'s Stmt. Facts, Ex. E.)
D. The Due Process Hearing: August 3-5, 2009
An ISBE hearing officer convened the due process hearing on August 3-5, 2009. (Pls.' Stmt. Facts, ¶ 18.) At the hearing, Plaintiffs alleged that between April 2007 and August 2009, the District violated Brianna's right to a free and appropriate public education ("FAPE").
Specifically, Plaintiffs complained that the District:
1. Did not appropriately evaluate Brianna for a potential learning disability.
2. Denied Brianna's mother access to Brianna's IEP and failed to give her a copy of the IEP document when she visited Brianna's ...