Jan 19, 2015

Supreme Court to Decide on Local Education Case

While all eyes are trained on the U.S. Supreme Court after the recent announcement that the Court will rule on the issue of same-sex marriage this term, school districts, parents and education advocates across the country are monitoring the high court for another reason. We will soon learn whether the Supreme Court will grant certiorari to a case that originated in nearby Delaware County.

Ridley School District v. M.R., as parent of E.R., considers the rights of special education students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or the IDEA. The IDEA is a comprehensive statute that governs how children with special needs are educated nationwide. Under the IDEA, parents and/or districts can request an administrative hearing to resolve issues regarding a student’s educational program, placement, or classification. Those decisions are appealable in federal court.

At issue in Ridley is a section of the IDEA that is commonly referred to as the “stay-put provision,” or 20 U.S.C. 1415(j). Unsurprisingly, the “stay-put provision” requires that a student remain in his or her educational placement while any dispute regarding that placement is resolved.

Because public school districts must provide every student with a free, appropriate public education, the stay-put provision can have costly implications. School districts may be responsible for funding private school placements while proceedings unfold.

Ridley asks just how long that responsibility lasts. In Ridley the Third Circuit Court of Appeals held that the stay-put provision applies from an administrative hearing through all subsequent federal appeals, breaking with other courts that have limited the duration of the stay-put provision. Stay tuned to learn whether the court will take up Ridley and clarify this significant issue.

Eastburn and Gray’s Education and School Law practice group routinely advises clients regarding the IDEA and all school-related issues. To learn more about the firm’s Education Law group, please visit: https://www.eastburngray.com/practice-areas/education-school-law/.

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