AASA and CASE File Amicus in Perez v. Sturgis

December 19, 2022

Next month, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a critically important case that could determine the future of special education litigation in school districts known as Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools. The case, if lost by the district, would significantly weaken exhaustion requirement under IDEA and will undermine the collaborative nature of the IDEA process and will shift the parties’ focus to money rather than the student’s education needs, will waste money on litigation that could more effectively be spent on students themselves, and will discourage settlements by making them more expensive.

In our brief, we argue that if the Supreme Court overturns the Sixth Circuit’s decision in this case, it will dramatically increase the incentives for parents to engage in litigation over their student's education and could also have an unintended negative impact on the creation of the IEPs in the first place. If school officials believe that parents will not cooperate in creating and implementing an IEP and intend to go to court regardless, the officials will have less incentive to devote the time and energy necessary for crafting an appropriate education plan for the student. If exhaustion under the IDEA is weakened or no longer required, parents and district leaders will stop finding ways to work together and turn their attention to the courts. Creating a “culture of litigation” could encourage all parties to focus more on their ultimate litigation positions, and less on the needs of the child before them. Read the full brief here