IDEA grants parents independent, enforceable rights

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WINKELMAN v. PARMA CITY SCHOOL DIST. (No. 05-983)
Argued: February 27, 2007 -- Decided: May 21, 2007
Opinion author: Kennedy
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Respondent school district receives federal funds under
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Act or
IDEA), so it must provide children such as petitioner Winkelmans' son Jacob a 'free appropriate public education,' 20 U. S. C. sec. 1400(d)(1)(A), in accordance with an individualized education program (IEP) that the parents, school officials, and others develop as members of the student's IEP Team. Regarding Jacob's IEP as deficient, the Winkelmans unsuccessfully
appealed through IDEA's administrative review process.
Proceeding without counsel, they then filed a federal-court
complaint on their own behalf and on Jacob's behalf. The
District Court granted respondent judgment on the pleadings.

The Sixth Circuit entered an order dismissing the Winkelmans' subsequent appeal unless they obtained an attorney, citing Circuit precedent holding that because the right to a free appropriate public education belongs only to the child,and IDEA does not abrogate the common-law rule prohibiting nonlawyer parents from representing minor children, IDEA does not allow nonlawyer parents to proceed pro se in federal court.

Held:

1. IDEA grants parents independent, enforceable rights,
which are not limited to procedural and reimbursement-related matters but encompass the entitlement to a free appropriate public education for their child. Pp. 4-17.
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This page contains a single entry by Leonard E. Sienko, Jr. published on May 21, 2007 2:02 PM.

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