NSBA Urges the U.S. Supreme Court to Uphold Long-Standing Processes that Encourage Parent-School Collaboration in Special Education

October 14, 2016

Alexandria, Va., October 14, 2016 – The National School Boards Association (NSBA), joined by the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), the School Superintendents Association (AASA), Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), and National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE), filed a “friend of the court” (amicus) brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools.

To meet the educational needs of students with disabilities, public schools collaborate with parents to develop individualized educational programs (IEPs). When parents disagree with a school’s IEP, federal law, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), provides due process procedures to resolve the disagreement. These procedures ensure that the concerns of the school and the parents are considered in a manner consistent with the law and the best interests of all before any litigation is filed which can be protracted and expensive for both parents and schools.  In the case of Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools, the parents sued in federal court without exhausting these procedures, and are suing under other federal laws.

“IDEA’s due process procedures were put in place for the benefit of students with disabilities,” said Thomas J. Gentzel, National School Boards Association Executive Director and CEO. “Parents and schools working collaboratively to address the individual educational needs of students produces the best outcomes for students with and without disabilities, their parents, and their local school districts. We encourage the Court to discourage any resolution that encourages more litigation and diverts precious funds away from the classroom.”

“From the beginning, Congress has consistently required parents who disagree with the services provided under the IDEA to first exhaust administrative remedies,” said Francisco Negrόn, NSBA Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel. “Weakening the IDEA’s exhaustion requirement will encourage more litigation that is costly and time-consuming and undermine the collaborative framework Congress intended, fundamentally altering the IEP process.”

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The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA represents state school board associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. For more information, visit

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