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SCOTUS sides with hearing impaired student over lapses in his special education accommodations



A Michigan student won the support of the United States Supreme Court this week in a unanimous decision against the Sturgis Public School District, saying the school’s lack of proper accommodations for the student resulted in severe “lapses” in his education.

The pupil, Miguel Perez, who enrolled in the district when he was 9 years old, reportedly got good grades in school for many years before high school graduation, when his parents learned he would not be eligible for graduation because he did not have a grasp on the curriculum. The family learned at that time that some of the special education aides assigned to Perez did not know sign language, and were unable to assist him fully in his studies.

The case brought before the Supreme Court argued that Perez had not “fully exhausted” the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, enacted in 1990, and therefore did not have the right to sue the school district. The Supreme Court justices voted unanimously that individuals with disabilities are not required to exhaust all the administrative steps in the IDEA in order to sue for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The major win in this particular ruling is that the Americans with Disabilities Act allows plaintiffs to receive monetary compensation in court, while the IDEA does not. The court ruled that the school district should have to pay the damages to Perez to cover the lapses in its special education program. Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the opinion for the case.

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