SCOTUS leaves questions as they Punt on the ADA and Special Education

As America’s highest court enters its new term, the justices have decided to leave specifics of the American Disabilities Act, such as whom it covers and what special education placement looks like for children with disabilities, in muddy waters

In a slew of orders issued Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court said it would not hear a case brought by a man with visual impairment who argued that vending machines ought to be accessible under the ADA. The court also turned away a claim related to the “stay put” provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

In regards to the IDEA Case, the high court rejected the appeal of a Seattle family of a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who wanted to clarify the IDEA’s “stay put” provision.

Under federal special education law, students have a right to remain in their current educational placement while disputes between parents and schools are being sorted out. The Seattle case questions what qualifies as a student’s current placement.

In the matter, the student known in court papers as N.E. never attended the self-contained classroom assigned in his individualized education program, or IEP, as his parents objected to the placement. Nonetheless, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed with the Seattle School District that the self-contained classroom counted as the child’s current placement simply because it was stated in the IEP.

The Supreme Court refused to hear the case leaving the lower court ruling intact. By refusing to hear the case, the court essentially has stripped parents of crucial rights as it pertains to who decides whats best for a child. With their refusal to hear the case, they have granted schools the ability to put things in IEP’s without approval or consent of the parents. This could potentially impact millions of school children nationwide. This gives schools unprecedented power and could lead to multiple legal disputes between families and districts down the road.

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