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COPAA and Education Law Center File 3rd Circuit Brief: Remand on Exhaustion Not Warranted

Monday, August 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

COPAA, along with amici Education Law Center (ELC) filed an amicus brief in support of the parents/Appellants in A.D. and R.D. Individually and on behalf of their son, S.D. v. Haddon Heights Board of Education on July 19, 2017. The procedural history of this case is as follows: The United States District Court for the District of New Jersey dismissed SD’s claims for failure to exhaust administrative remedies under IDEA. The Third Court affirmed the dismissal in S.D. v. Haddon Heights Bd. of Educ., 833 F.3d 389 (3d Cir. 2016) (S.D. I). The Supreme Court vacated S.D. I and remanded for reconsideration in light of Fry, which was decided several months after S.D. I. See S.D. v. Haddon Heights Bd. of Educ., 2017 U.S. LEXIS 3107 (May 15, 2017). Catherine Merino Reisman, Sarah Zuba and Judith Gran represent the family, Ellen Saideman was co-counsel on the petition for certiorari to the US Supreme Court.  

This case involves the interpretation and application of the Handicapped Children’s Protection Act, (HCPA), an amendment to the Education of the Handicapped Act, codified at 20 U.S.C.1415(l). Prior to Fry v. Napoleon Cmty. Schs, 580 U.S. __, 137 S. Ct. 743 (2017), the Supreme Court had never interpreted the HCPA. Appellants A.D. and R.D., individually and on behalf of their son S.D., asserted disability discrimination and retaliation claims against Appellee Haddon Heights Board of Education (Haddon Heights or Board). They alleged that the Board violated Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Amici are profoundly concerned that parents and children should not be required to waste scarce time, money, and other resources on IDEA due process hearings when they raise allegations of discrimination or retaliation under Section 504/ADA in the absence of IDEA claims. Compelling parents and children to pursue IDEA due process hearings will delay ultimate resolution of claims by months, and even years, during which time students, parents, and their legal advocates may continue to experience violations of their federal rights. Further, there are many instances where IDEA simply cannot provide the requested or requisite relief. Accordingly, Amici Curiae respectfully request that the Court find on remand that exhaustion of administrative remedies is not warranted in this case. David Berney is the counsel of record and filed the brief for Amici, Selene Almazan, Alexis Casillas and Jessica Salonus assisted in the drafting and editing.  

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