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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Schools Lose Ruling Over No Child Left Behind Act

CHICAGO (CN) - The 7th Circuit held that two school districts and a group of parents lacked standing to claim that the No Child Left Behind Act conflicts with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but the court ultimately rejected the plaintiffs' argument as "too weak to justify continued litigation."

The IDEA requires schools to provide individual educational programs for students with disabilities, while the NCLBA forces schools to demonstrate "adequate yearly progress" on standardized tests. School districts claimed that if they adhered to the IDEA programs, it caused them to miss their targets under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The district court reasoned that the plaintiffs lacked standing because both laws establish voluntary programs, so the districts can solve the problem by turning down the federal money and escaping their obligations.

"That won't hold water for several reasons," Judge Easterbrook wrote, citing that the decision to participate is made at the state level, not the local level, and that the plaintiff parents have no say in the school's participation. Finally, because participating districts are bound to the program's requirements, they are entitled to legally challenge those demands.

Thus, while plaintiffs have standing, the court said a remand is "unnecessary" based on their weak claim. If the laws do conflict, the court said the IDEA, as the earlier enactment, "must give way."

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