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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

The Perez Case

 IThe Politics of Autism, I write about special education and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. II also discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families

Robyn Powell at The Regulatory Review:
The Perez case that was decided by the Supreme Court in March highlights such concerns. Between the ages of 9 and 20, Miguel Luna Perez attended Sturgis Public School District in Michigan. Because he is deaf, Miguel was entitled to have an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter in his classes. However, the assigned aide lacked qualifications and provided inadequate support, hindering Miguel’s learning and communication. Moreover, Sturgis school officials misrepresented Miguel’s progress, leading the Perez family to believe he would graduate on time, only to be informed months before graduation that he would not receive a diploma.

In a unanimous decision written by Justice Gorsuch, the Supreme Court adopted the Perez family’s interpretation. The Court clarified that section 1415(l) applies only to lawsuits seeking relief available under the IDEA. It emphasized that “remedies” and “relief” are synonymous in the context of section 1415, as treated in other parts of the statute.

As a result, the exhaustion requirement did not bar the Perez family’s ADA lawsuit because the damages sought were not available under the IDEA. The Court’s decision strengthens the implementation of FAPE rights, allowing students to seek monetary damages under non-IDEA civil rights laws and injunctive relief through IDEA administrative procedures.

Ultimately, the Court’s recent ruling significantly shifts the power dynamic between students with disabilities, their families, and school districts. It empowers students and parents by providing them with essential tools to address and rectify violations of disabled students’ educational rights.