Friday, May 25, 2007

En Banc Third Circuit: Can't Enforce IDEA Through Section 1983

Yesterday, the en banc Third Circuit unanimously ruled, in A.W. v. Jersey City Public Schools, that the Individuals with Disabilities Education act cannot be enforced through 42 U.S.C. 1983. This is an important decision, because it means that kids and parents can't get money damages for violation of the IDEA, and it makes it nigh-impossible to maintain class-based claims for violation of the IDEA. The court's decision overrules its own prior precedent, and is inconsistent with decisions of a number of other circuits. (The court also took a bit of a leap in concluding that it had appellate jurisdiction to decide the issue in the first place.) Oh yeah, and the court concludes with a ruling, that also creates a circuit split, that Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act cannot be enforced through Section 1983 either. All told, a significant and problematic decision.

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