Court case for deaf students at the center of the Supreme Court case

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The Supreme Court will hear a case on Wednesday that could make it more difficult for students with disabilities to solve problems quickly when they don’t get help in public schools.

The question for the judges concerns a federal law that guarantees disabled students an education specific to their needs.

Lawyers for Miguel Luna Perez, a deaf student who attended a public school in Sturgis, Michigan, said the school system had not provided him with a qualified sign language interpreter for more than a decade and had misled his parents into believing he was on the right track. was to make money. his high school diploma. However, just before he graduated, his family was told that he was only eligible for a “certificate of completion,” not a diploma.

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His family responded by filing claims under two statutes, the broad Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against the disabled, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The IDEA guarantees children with disabilities free public education tailored to their specific needs.

Perez’s family and the school district eventually settled the IDEA claims. The school district agreed to pay for, among other things, additional schooling and sign language instruction for Perez and his family. The family then went to federal court seeking monetary damages under the ADA, which are not available under the IDEA.

Lower courts, however, said suing under the ADA should not have agreed to a settlement with Perez.

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Former federal education officials are among those who have told the court that lower court decisions are wrong. The officials say maintaining it would harm children with disabilities by forcing them to choose between resolving issues immediately but forfeiting other claims and delaying to try to get fuller relief.

While the IDEA encourages settlements, upholding the lower court’s decision would force students and their families “to forego prompt assistance and waste time, money and administrative resources” in order to preserve their other claims, they said. The Biden administration is also urging the court to side with Perez.

However, a national school board association and an association of school inspectors are among those who believe that lower courts were right. They say that deciding otherwise would weaken IDEA’s collaborative problem-solving process and lead to lengthier and more costly litigation.

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The case is Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, 21-887.

Photo: The Supreme Court will hear a case that could make it more difficult for students with disabilities to quickly solve problems when they don’t get help in public schools. The question for the judges concerns a federal law that guarantees disabled students an education specific to their needs. (UKTN Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

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