Supreme Court ruling gives public school students with disabilities victory: NPR
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A unanimous Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a deaf student can sue their school for failing to provide them with a public education appropriate to their needs. Because the ruling allows for the possibility of two separate lawsuits, it could give parents more leverage in negotiating with public schools over helping children with disabilities.
Miguel Luna Perez enrolled in public schools in Sturgis, Michigan, starting when he was 9 years old. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA, the district was required to provide him with an appropriate public school education. But instead of providing Perez with assistants who could translate course materials into sign language, as promised, the assistants were not trained in sign language at all and were often absent from classes.
Because Perez received A’s and B’s on report cards, his parents thought he was on the right track to graduating. But near the end of his senior year in high school, they were told he wouldn’t be graduating. After the parents filed a lawsuit with the state, the school district settled the case, agreeing to pay for future training at the Michigan School for the Deaf.
But Perez wanted compensation for past damages — lost income and emotional distress. He sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities. That was the technical question before the Supreme Court: whether he could sue for past damages under a different law.
Writing for the unanimous court, Judge Neil Gorsuch said the answer was yes he could.