A Big Win for Parent

A big win for parents of children with disabilities!

On May 21, 2007, the United States Supreme Court decided in favor of parents’ rights under IDEA by holding that Jeff and Sandee Winkleman 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 Winklemans’ 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 Winklemans 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 that they believe denied their children a free appropriate public education.

You may view the opinion at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/05-983.ZO.html

Paul J. Seifert
CHADD Director of Public Policy
8181 Professional Place, Suite 150
Landover, MD  20785
Ph: 301-306-7070, ext 109
Cell: 301-219-4719
Fax: 301-306-7090
Email: paul_seifert@chadd.org