Special education clash: Supreme Court sides unanimously for student with disability

By John Fritze: Complete Post through this link…

The Supreme Court sided unanimously Tuesday with a student who is deaf and who sought to sue his school for damages over profound lapses in his education, a case that experts say could give parents of students with disabilities more leverage as they negotiate for the education of their children.

Central to the case was the story of Miguel Perez, who enrolled in the Sturgis Public School District in Michigan at age 9 and brought home As and Bs on report cards for more than a decade. Months before graduation, Perez’s parents learned that he would not receive a diploma and that aides the school assigned to him did not know sign language. 

Though the legal question raised by the case is technical, its outcome “holds consequences not just for Mr. Perez but for a great many children with disabilities and their parents,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the unanimous court.

What to know about the Supreme Court’s special education decision 

  • The case, Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, involved the interplay between two federal laws, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. At issue was whether students may sue a school for damages under the ADA when they haven’t exhausted the administrative process required by the IDEA.
  • In the unanimous decision Tuesday, the high court ruled that Perez didn’t need to exhaust the requirements of the IDEA process before filing a lawsuit for damages under the ADA. 
  • The decision may help parents and schools clarify one piece of a byzantine puzzle of laws that govern the nation’s 7.2 million special education students. Experts have predicted it may give parents more leverage in their negotiation with schools. 

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