[updated] Parents of kids on IEPs don't need to hire lawyers, BIG SCOTUS win, originated in Ohio

Wow. Big, big win for parents who were supported by the US DOJ btw.

The opinion is here (Winkelman v. Parma City School District)

From WaPo:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the court, said parents have legal rights under the Individuals With Disabilities in Education Act, the main federal special education law.

“They are, as a result, entitled to prosecute IDEA claims on their own behalf,” Kennedy said.

The court sided with Jeff and Sandee Winkelman and their son, Jacob, in their fight against the Parma, Ohio school district.

The Winkelmans can’t afford a lawyer or the cost of private schooling for Jacob. Neither parent is a lawyer.

The parents objected to the Parma schools’ plan to educate Jacob at a public school. They wanted the district to pay for his $56,000 yearly enrollment in a private school that specializes in educating autistic children.

The Winkelmans have spent about $30,000 in legal fees since first contesting Jacob’s treatment in 2003. Jeff Winkelman has taken a second job while his wife has researched previous court rulings and written her own filings.

Huge, huge win.

I wrote about it here and here and will post updates as I learn more, understand more. Wow – really, REALLY big deal for kids with special ed needs and parents who differ with their public school districts. Read more about a tangential issue in Ohio here at Brewed Fresh Daily.

UPDATE: More first-person reaction from the Winkelmans, by the Plain Dealer Openers.

6 thoughts on “[updated] Parents of kids on IEPs don't need to hire lawyers, BIG SCOTUS win, originated in Ohio

  1. For once a decision from the current SCOTUS that actually makes sense. The City of Parma schools should be ashamed of themselves for spending taxpayer money and torturing this family by fighting this issue up the court chain. I make no comment on the merits of the family’s claim, but I hope they are successful after all the wasted effort the school board put into this case, rather than putting that effort into educating this student.

  2. Barbara, at the link below (at Ohio Daily Blog) I left a lengthy comment about how I think that will go, now that this decision exists. Best of luck to you – I’ve been with a parent networking group re: special and gifted ed for over seven years and have seen and heard a lot re: trying to get even the best districts to do right. Honestly, it takes such stamina – and it shouldn’t have to. Good luck.

  3. This is good news. One of my children is on an IEP and I just hired a Parent Advocate to get what she deserves from the NYC Dept. of Education (the Keystone Cops is more like it)Now lets see how Depts of Ed across the country try to continue to frustrate and thwart parents.Great post Jill!

  4. Thanks for the clarification. I actually did get that, but I still couldn’t pass up the opportunity to express my knee-jerk cynicism of industrial polluters.Nevertheless (as I again manipulate the issue to suit myself…), I think it’s fair to say that wherever the money comes from to pay for the child’s schooling, it won’t come from the agents I mentioned.

  5. nonononono (that’s no no no not on on on)Not what happened. :)What this case has determined is that parents do not need to hire a lawyer to take a due process hearing into the courts. SCOTUS has not touched the issue of whether Parma needs to pay for what the parents want it to pay for. Very different issue, different case.Again – Winkelman in SCOTUS was only about the parents being able to bring the case to a court of law without having to hire a lawyer. The underlying issue of services HAS NOT BEEN DECIDED.

  6. I can’t prove it, but I’m sure someday scientists will link autism and other developmental disorders to chemicals in the environment. We live in a chemical world and very few have been studied for their effects on fetuses and newborns.So although it’s good that this child will get the appropriate education, it’s sad that taxpayers have to foot the bill instead of the corporations, industries, lobbyists, and government officials that may have contributed to this child’s autism in the first place.

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