Deaf student’s lawsuit against school district draws support from justices on both the left and the right | SCOTUSblog

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed ready to side with a deaf student who is seeking financial compensation from a Michigan school district that failed to provide him with a qualified sign-language interpreter.

The student, Miguel Perez, alleges that the school district violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. Lower courts threw out his lawsuit, ruling that a different federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, required him to “exhaust” his claims against the district – that is, fully pursue them in administrative proceedings before going to federal court. During over an hour of debate on Wednesday, however, a majority of the justices seemed inclined to allow Perez’s lawsuit to go forward.

Representing Perez, lawyer Roman Martinez stressed that for over 12 years, the Sturgis Public Schools “neglected Miguel, denied him an education, and lied to his parents about the progress he was allegedly making in school.” That “shameful conduct,” Martinez said, “permanently stunted Miguel’s ability to communicate with the outside world.”

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