Skip to Full Menu

Providing information, education, and training to build knowledge, develop skills, and change attitudes that will lead to increased independence, productivity, self determination, integration and inclusion (IPSII) for people with developmental disabilities and their families.

Parents Don't Need Lawyers To Sue Schools, Appeals Court Rules
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 9, 2003

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS--The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that parents do not need a lawyer to sue school districts in order to get an appropriate public education for their children.

The three-judge panel made its ruling in a New Hampshire case in which the parents of a boy with disabilities had sued two separate school districts over his individualized education plan (IEP).

The appeals court noted that it is customary for parents to seek the help of a qualified attorney when bringing suits under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. However, the court said, it is unlikely Congress intended for parents to be stopped if they decided to represent their children on their own.

The court also acknowledged schools districts' concerns that allowing parents to sue without a lawyer would cause more "meritless" lawsuits to be filed under the IDEA.

"The concern is real," the court wrote in its ruling. "Our view is that Congress . . . thought that risk an acceptable price to pay'' to make sure students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education.


©2016 The Minnesota Governor's Council on Developmental Disabilities
 370 Centennial Office Building  658 Cedar Street   St. Paul, Minnesota 55155 
Phone: 651.296.4018   Toll-free number: 877.348.0505   MN Relay Service: 800.627.3529 OR 711   Fax: 651.297.7200 
Email:   View Privacy Policy   An Equal Opportunity Employer 

The GCDD is funded under the provisions of P.L. 106-402. The federal law also provides funding to the Minnesota Disability Law Center,the state Protection and Advocacy System, and to the Institute on Community Integration, the state University Center for Excellence. The Minnesota network of programs works to increase the IPSII of people with developmental disabilities and families into community life.