On April 3, 2023, the Daily Dawg told you about Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, 143 S.Ct. 859, a Supreme Court ruling that upended our understanding of how suits under IDEA mesh with suits under other statutes, such as Section 504 or the ADA. SCOTUS held that plaintiffs can pursue claims under ADA and 504 without exhausting IDEA administrative remedies under IDEA if they are seeking remedies you can’t get under IDEA. Remedies like compensatory damages for getting hit by a trash can.
Nidia Heston alleges that this is what happened to her son many years ago. She sued Austin ISD alleging that the person the district hired to help her son instead verbally harassed him and hit him with a trash can. She settled any claims she might have under IDEA and then pursued recourse pursuant to the ADA, Section 504 and Section 1983. In 2018 the court dismissed these claims because she had not exhausted her administrative remedies under IDEA. She took this to the 5th Circuit and got tossed out there too. That was in 2020 and reflected the law as it stood then.
Ms. Heston started up again with basically the same suit in 2022, and again got tossed out of court for trying to “relitigate the same issues as in the first case.”
Then the Supreme Court changed everything.
That SCOTUS decision in the Sturgis case gave new life to Ms. Heston’s efforts. Based on the Supreme Court’s ruling, the 5th Circuit revived Ms. Heston’s case and sent it back to the district court for further action. It’s Heston v. Austin ISD, decided by the 5th Circuit on June 22, 2023, and it’s a good example of how Supreme Court rulings change things.
DAWG BONE: SHE STILL FACES A HIGH BURDEN OF PROOF.
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Tomorrow: affirmative action and SCOTUS….