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The Supremes, on a 6-2 vote, ruled against parents in a Maryland special education case Decision imposes a major financial burden on all parents challenging IEP rulings.
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(For another view on the impact of this case, and possible recommendations for a better way to deliver special education, see
There Has To Be A Better Way, by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, Senior Fellow in Economics, the Acton Institute)11/14/05
The Supreme Court ruled today, on a 6 to 2 vote, that the school districts are not legally obliged to prove the adequacy of individualized educational programs. The court held that it is up to individual parents to demonstrate a program's inadequacy. The, which settled a split in the federal courts, was a major blow to parents' advocacy organizations, who had argued that most families are not financially able to bear the cost of the burden of persuasion when going up against school district. School officials across the country (there were a number of amicus briefs filed) argued that their resources would be drained by having to make a showing of adequacy. Justice O'Connor, writing in a 6-2 decision, said that ordinarily the burden lies "where it usually falls, on the party seeking relief," in this case, the parents. Justice O’Conner said the court saw no reason to depart from this "default" position. The law, she said, does not support the argument that "every individualized educational program should be assumed to be invalid until the school district demonstrates that it's not." In fact, she said, "there is reason to believe that a great deal is already spent on IDEA administration, and Congress has repeatedly amended" the law "to reduce its administrative and litigation-related costs." Joining O'Connor were Justices John Paul Stevens, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, David Souter and Clarence Thomas. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr, whose former law firm helped represent the Montgomery County schools in the case, did not participate. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer dissented, saying the majority's decision ran contrary to the purpose of IDEA. Jerry B. Weast, superintendent of the Montgomery County Public School System, called the court's decision "a victory for special education teachers in Montgomery County and across the nation who work hard everyday to provide the best possible education for students with disabilities."Additional information on the case can be found at Brian Schaffer et al v. Jerry Weast This is only the sixth case involving special education to reach the Supremes.
Details to follow
A useful government website
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