National Disability Rights Groups Applaud SCOTUS Decision in Perez v. Sturgis
Today, twelve national organizations which filed an amicus brief in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools offered congratulatory and supporting statements in light of the unanimous 9-0 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (the Court) in support of plaintiff Miguel Perez. As recommended by disability advocates, the Court’s decision reverses the decision of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to protect students with disabilities and will ensure that students are able to use civil rights remedies as provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
In response to the decision, the organizations offered the following statements:
Shira Wakschlag, Esq., The Arc of the United States, Senior Director and General Counsel: “Miguel Perez is just one of millions of students with disabilities who face a multitude of barriers in getting the supports and services they need to thrive in school and to build the future they desire,” said Shira Wakschlag, Senior Director of Legal Advocacy and General Counsel at The Arc. “These barriers, which include overt segregation and discrimination, force parents and children to become experts in self-advocacy and the law in order to get the education they are entitled to. Consistent with the language of the ADA and IDEA, today’s unanimous decision in Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools removes unnecessary burdens from families seeking relief and helps ensure that students with disabilities and their parents are able to pursue every avenue of justice available to them when their civil rights are violated.”
Selene Almazan, Esq., Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Legal Director: “COPAA led the development of the amicus brief to ensure the Court heard from parents, advocates, and attorneys about the IDEA’s civil rights protections, including that the law does not require a student and their family to exhaust their administrative remedies to bring forward non-IDEA civil rights claims. The decision today affirms this critical aspect of the law.”
Elizabeth Athos, Esq., Education Law Center, Senior Attorney of Educational Equity: “The Court’s recognition that Congress does not require students with disabilities to litigate under IDEA before seeking relief under federal antidiscrimination laws that IDEA cannot provide is an important vindication of student rights. We are grateful to Miguel Perez for representing the interests of a great many children with disabilities, to COPAA for ensuring that the voices of students with disabilities and their families were expressed, and to the Court for applying faithfully the law written by Congress.”
Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, National Center for Learning Disabilities, CEO: “The National Center for Learning Disabilities applauds the Supreme Court’s decision in the Perez case to ensure all families have access to a high-quality education. We commend the Perez family for their steadfast commitment to protecting the rights of students with disabilities and their families. No family should have to endure what the Perez’ went through in order to maintain their legal rights but because of their efforts, families of students with disabilities continue to have the tools necessary to remedy a situation if their child is not provided their right to a free and appropriate public education.”
Dan Stewart, Esq., National Disability Rights Network, Managing Attorney: “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous decision is a common-sense affirmation of a student’s right to pursue claims with different remedies under different laws. The earlier court decisions prohibited Miguel from pursuing monetary damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) after he had settled his education claims under IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. In recognizing those differences in the context of complex litigation, the Court provided much needed clarity that students like Miguel can seek full relief for the wrongs they suffered. We would like to extend a special congratulations to Disability Rights Michigan, the Protection and Advocacy agency for the state of Michigan who started work on this case back in 2017 for following it to a successful conclusion today.”
Signers of the Amicus Brief: The Arc of the United States, The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN), Communication First, The Coelho Center for Disability Law, Policy and Innovation, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Education Law Center, Innisfree Foundation (Innisfree), Learning Rights Law Center, National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), National Center for Youth Law (NCYL), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on January 18, 2023. Miguel Perez is represented by Roman Martinez, Latham & Watkins. Also representing Perez are: Ellen Marjorie Saideman, Law Office of Ellen Saideman; Marc Charmatz and Leah Weiderhorn, National Association of the Deaf Law Advocacy Center; and, Mitchell Sickon, Disability Rights Michigan.
URL to SCOTUS decision: https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/22pdf/21-887_k53m.pdf
URL to Amicus Brief: https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/21/21-887/246668/20221116141113015_21-887%20Perez%20v%20Sturgis%20Brief%20for%20Amici%20Curiae%20The%20Arc%20of%20the%20US%20et%20a.pdf