Monday, May 21, 2007

Supreme Court: Parents Have Enforceable Rights Under IDEA

Today, the Supreme Court issued its opinion in Winkelman v. Parma City School District. The case presented the question whether parents can proceed in federal court pro se (that is, without a lawyer) to enforce provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act relating to their child's education. The Court, in a 7-2 decision, held that parents can proceed pro se in federal court. Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, which concluded that the IDEA gives parents exactly the same rights relating to their children's education as it gives to their children. In an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, Justice Scalia (joined by Justice Thomas) argued that parents have only two classes of enforceable rights under the IDEA: (1) a right to reimbursement if the school district denied a free appropriate public education and the parents sent the child to private school as a result; and (2) certain procedural rights.

It's nice to see the Court rule for the parents in an IDEA case, and the Court's holistic approach to reading the statute will be probably be helpful in future cases.

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Blogger usna73 said...

Amen to The Supreme Court. As the parent of an autistic child who has witnessed the intimidation of families by school districts, I hope that this unleashes the fury of justice on behalf of those who need help desparately but cannot afford counsel. We should act immediately to create a community that can assist one another in this pursuit.

1:55 PM  
Blogger zak822 said...

My first thought was that Justices Scalia and Thomas just don't like the idea that someone who has not passed the bar exam is allowed to stand before them.

You know, with them being being so exalted and all.

2:27 PM  

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