Supreme Court Decision Seen as Big Win for Parents
The United States Supreme Court struck a blow for parent rights under IDEA by holding that Jeff and Sandee Winkelman have the right as parents to use the federal courts to enforce special education rights without having to hire a lawyer. The Supreme Court said that the clear statutory scheme behind IDEA intended that parents be free to proceed to federal court on their own when they feel their child's right to a free appropriate public education is being violated. Justice Kennedy wrote the opinion supporting the Winkleman's rights and was joined in agreement by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens, Breyer, Souter, Ginsberg, and Alito.
Justices Scalia and Thomas agreed that the Winkleman's should be able to go to federal court on their own to seek reimbursement for private school costs but did not agree that parents should be able to go to court on their own in all instances.
Parents now need not fear that school districts will impose another layer of legal obstacles in front of them when they go to federal court acting as their own lawyers to appeal cases for their children. Had the school district won, parents and children throughout America would have lost yet another opportunity to challenge a school district's decision which they believe denied their children a free appropriate public education.
View the entire opinion online You may view the opinion online at the Legal Information Institute (LII) at the Cornell University Law School website.
Courtesy: Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute.