Issue: Whether the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act of 1986 commands exhaustion in a suit, brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act that seeks damages – a remedy that is not available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
On June 28, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an order accepting to hear an appeal out of Michigan in the case Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, No. 15-497, order granting cert, (June 28, 2016), that presents the issue whether parents must exhaust the administrative due process procedures under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) before filing a lawsuit for money damages for disability-based discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In January 2014, the district court dismissed the case reasoning that the Fry family was required to exhaust administrative remedies under IDEA. The court of appeals was split but upheld the district court’s ruling. In October 2015, the Fry family appealed the case to the US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court asked the Solicitor General to help determine whether the US Supreme Court should hear the case.
The ACLU argues that students with disabilities should be allowed to file with the courts without going through due process to save time and money. The school argues that alternative methods for achieving resolution should be the preferred route.
In May 2016, the Solicitor General filed a brief and stated that the US Supreme Court should hear the case. The brief stated that the Court of Appeals’ decision was incorrect. The Solicitor General opined that even if the Frys won all their arguments under IDEA they “would have had to file exactly the same suit under” the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act. The Courts of Appeals are split about the proper interpretation of the exhaustion requirement. Therefore, the Solicitor General concluded that the issue is important and recurring, and the Supreme Court should hear it.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments on October 31, 2016.
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