The U.S. Supreme Court has announced that it will not take up a case
involving an important interpretation of federal special education law.
In Ridley School District v. D.R. (No. 13-1547), a special education student’s
parents claimed that her IEP was not appropriate and enrolled the
student in a private school. The school won on the question of whether
the IEP provided the student with a free, appropriate public education
and the parents appealed. The parents claimed that the school was obligated
to pay for the student’s private school placement as part of
“stay put” while the parents appealed the case. Thus, the question in Ridley was
whether the stay-put requirement ends when a state or federal
trial court issues a final judgment in a dispute, or whether the provision continues
until all court appeals are exhausted. The federal courts of appeals are
divided over that issue, with school districts in some places facing higher bills for
private schooling of students where the stay-put provision has been ruled to
stay in force during what are often lengthy appeals.
The Supreme Court had asked the Obama administration for its input
on whether to grant the school’s request that the court answer this question.
The administration’s response urged the Court not to hear the case and, in a
brief, one-sentence order, the Court took that advice.
The result of this decision is that the courts remain divided on how
long a “stay put” obligation continues after a school district has prevailed in
a due process case. In some jurisdictions this will mean that parents will
have the incentive to prolong the appeals process to continue the school’s
obligation to pay for the parents’ preferred educational services.
With any special education issue, it is always better to find out the
answer before you take action. Feel free to contact Karen, Steve or Bobby
or your school district's attorney if you have questions about stay put or
more generally about the IDEA and Rule 51 of the Nebraska Department of