Supreme Court sides unanimously with deaf student denied proper education

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Supreme Court sides unanimously with deaf student denied proper education

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The Supreme Court unanimously decided a case on Tuesday in favor of a deaf student who sued his Michigan-based school district for denying his graduation after he was not provided a qualified interpreter, a ruling that could help claims of unfair treatment by students with disabilities.

In a 10-page opinion by Justice Neil Gorsuch, the court agreed the student’s initial settlement with the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act did not prevent a separate lawsuit also against the district under the Americans with Disabilities Act because he was seeking compensatory damages not afforded under the first law.

SUPREME COURT TAKES UP RIGHTS OF DISABLED STUDENTS IN MICHIGAN SPECIAL EDUCATION CASE

The decision allows a plaintiff to go forward with his claims in federal court after lower courts ruled against him. “[It] is not the job of this court to replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress’s intent,” Gorsuch wrote.

The case surrounds 27-year-old Miguel Perez, the deaf son of an immigrant family who enrolled in Sturgis Public School District when he was 9 and made good grades throughout his time in school. But months before his eventual graduation, his parents learned he would not receive a diploma and that their son was also assigned an interpreter who did not actually know sign language.

Perez filed a complaint with Michigan officials in 2017 claiming the school violated state and federal laws, including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. His family eventually agreed to a settlement ahead of the case’s resolution, which saw the school agree to pay for Perez to attend the Michigan School for the Deaf.

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But his family later filed a separate lawsuit under the Americans with Disabilities Act, to which a federal district court dismissed that suit in a ruling stating the family did not exhaust the necessary Individuals with Disabilities Education Act process before he took the settlement.

A split panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit agreed, leading Perez to appeal to the Supreme Court in 2021.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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