WASHINGTON, DC (October 5, 2005) — Today, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in Schaffer v. Weast, a case in which the Court will decide whether the parents or the school district are responsible for proving whether a special education plan proposed by the school district over the parents' objection meets the standards set out by law. McDermott Will & Emery filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA) and were joined by 12 other organizations in support of the Schaffer family. McDermott wrote the brief for COPAA on a pro bono basis.
The brief described the sound legal reasons to place the burden of proof on school systems in administrative hearings under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. McDermott partner Ankur Goel and associate Erik Baptist wrote the brief with assistance from partners Miller Baker and Karla Palmer, all based in the Firm's Washington, D.C. office.
"This case ties into the larger questions of accountability in public school services and ensuring all students receive a quality education," commented Mr. Goel. "If a school is doing all that is required by law, they should have no problem proving it."
The plaintiff in Schaffer v. Weast is a former Montgomery, Virginia student named Brian Schaffer who was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity. When his parents became dissatisfied with the public school's education options they sought reimbursement for his private school tuition. The lead defendant is Jerry D. Weast, the Montgomery school superintendent, who denied the reimbursement. The Court agreed to hear the case after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that the parents were obligated to prove that the education program created for their child was inadequate.
McDermott Will & Emery is an international law firm with a diversified business practice numbering more than 1000 lawyers. The Firm recognizes and appreciates the need to give back to the communities of which it is a part, assisting those who are unable to afford legal services. We are committed to enhancing the lives of those in need by making a positive contribution to our communities through pro bono legal representation.