NCLB Trumps Federal Special Ed. Law, Court Says

A recent lawsuit claiming that NCLB requirement came into conflict with Special Education laws was turned away by a federal appeals court.

Thursday February 14th - 1:59pm

Two school districts and four individual families from Illinois presented a lawsuit claiming that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was in conflict with the requirement of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that all special education students have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

The two school districts argued that, rather than creating a program for each of these children, the NCLB puts special education students into a subgroup, and their standardized test scores then help determine whether a school makes Adequate Yearly Progress.

The suit was originally dismissed by a federal judge in Chicago because there were, he ruled, no concrete injuries resulting from the NCLB law. The 7th Circuit Panel of Appeals overruled the lower judge, saying that the school districts, at least, had suffered concrete injury in terms of money.

The Panel agreed that "Compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act is expensive," but also ruled that the NCLB took precedence over the IDEA because it is the more recent law.

The attorney for the plaintiffs argued that schools are missing their Adequate Yearly Progress mark because of special needs students who are being tested in a way that is not in accordance with their IEPs, but the Court ruled that the 2004 Amendments were put in place in order to reconcile the two laws, and that the conflict argued by the plaintiffs should no longer exist.

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