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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

U.S. Supreme Court Denies Review in Special Education Cases To Start Fall 2017 Session

Oct. 2, 2017 - The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up cases on special education, violent speech aimed at schools, alleged teacher misconduct, and alleged retaliation against parents as it formally opened its new term.

article by Mark Walsh for Education Week                                                                                 
The justices turned down hundreds of appeals that had piled up over the summer, just a few days they had granted review of nine of those appeals, including a major case about whether public-sector unions, including teachers' unions, may continue to charge fees to nonmembers for representing them in collective bargaining.

But the first Monday of October usually brings an orders list denying most of the rest, and Oct. 2 was no different.

Among the more prominent education cases denied by the court was one dealing with the "stay-put" provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In N.E. v. Seattle School District (Case No. 16-1285), the question was whether an educational setting constitutes a child's "then-current educational placement" simply because it is the placement listed in an individualized education program (IEP) drafted by the school district, even when the parents objected to the portion of the IEP listing that placement, and the child never actually attended that placement.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, in San Francisco, had ruled in favor of the Seattle School District in the case. Lawyers for N.E., a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, argued that the 9th Circuit's interpretation of the stay-put provision of IDEA was incorrect and inconsistent with several other federal circuit courts.

"The circuits exist in a state of perpetual confusion" about how to apply the stay-put provision, the Supreme Court appeal on behalf of the student said.

The justices declined the appeal without comment.

There was a different disposition for another special education case. The Supreme Court granted a California family's request to toss out a 9th Circuit decision that had upheld a federal district court's and administrative law judge's findings that a school district met its obligations under the IDEA for a student identified as E.F., who has autism and communicative delays.

The parents of E.F. said in court papers that he had made only minimal progress on his IEP's goals over four years in the Newport Mesa Unified School District, and that the lower court rulings had affirmed such a standard of minimal progress that was later rejected by the Supreme Court.

In its March 22 decision in case involving a Colorado student, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the high court had set aside a "merely more than de minimis" standard adopted by another federal appeals court and held that an IEP typically should be "reasonably calculated to enable the child to achieve passing marks and advance from grade to grade."

In their Supreme Court appeal in E.F. v. Newport Mesa Unified School District (No. 16-1533), the family asked the justices to vacate the 9th Circuit's decision in their case and remand for further consideration in light of Endrew F.

And that is exactly what the high court did.

For several other education-related cases the court declined to take up, please read the full Education Week article" CLICK HERE

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