What Winkelman means

Truly a fascinating decision in the US Supreme Court today regarding parents’ rights and kids’ educational plans under the IDEA.

Not quite the full frontal slam dunk because Scalia and Thomas say that there’s no parental right to sue over the adequacy of a child’s education plan but only a parental right to sue to recover costs and address procedural issues.

However, the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, says the opposite: Kennedy found that the parents – in addition to their kids – do have rights connected to the adequacy of a child’s education and those rights are what give parents the ability to represent themselves in court when the child’s education plan is at issue. Scalia and Thomas’s dissent on this portion would mean that parents would have to hire a lawyer to challenge the adequacy of a child’s education program.

Very, very interesting.

My prediciton is that whenever a parent doesn’t want to hire the lawyer, they’ll be sure to include a prayer in the lawsuit that indicates a concern for the adequacy of the education plan because then, under Winkelman, they’re allowed to represent themselves, since Winkelmand says that parents – and not just the child – have a right to an adequate education plan.

But also: watch out for what kinds of cases will now be litigated in which parents want to extend the purview of parental rights. Kennedy is indicating a willingness to expand such rights and in this day and age of helicopter parents and arguments that talk about “choice” – well, the legal mind is a terrible thing to waste and with fewer torts, hey – let’s go for the civil liberties and fundamental rights, yes?

Love that JD/MSSA sometimes.

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