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ELC OPPOSES U.S. SUPREME COURT REVIEW OF DECISION ON FEES IN SPECIAL EDUCATION CASES

ELC has filed a brief opposing the request by a South Jersey school district that the United States Supreme Court review a decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals allowing attorneys fees to in special education cases.

In April 2006, the Third Circuit ruled in P.N. v. Clementon Board of Education that, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), students with disabilities who successfully resolve their educational disputes with school districts through a settlement agreement signed by an administrative law judge, are entitled to "prevailing party" attorney’s fees. In its decision, the Third Circuit noted that special education disputes "often involve low income families raising handicapped or otherwise troubled children receiving some kind of public assistance." The decision ensures that parents can afford to advocate for the services that their children need in order to be academically successful.

In opposing Clementon Board of Education’s (CBE) petition to the US Supreme Court for "certiorari" or review, ELC argues that the petition lacks merit and should be denied. ELC asserts that the Third Circuit’s P.N. decision clearly complies with IDEA, previous decisions of the Third Circuit and decisions of the Supreme Court. Furthermore, the P.N. decision does not conflict with the decisions of any other circuit court in the country. As ELC argues in its brief, the contention that there is a conflict among circuit courts "reflects nothing more than CBE’s unhappiness with the results in this case, and the argument should not be credited."

For more information contact Ruth Lowenkron, at rlowenkron@edlawcenter.org or 973-624-1815, ext. 21.