Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Students with Disabilities

March 27, 2023

On Tuesday, March 21, 2023, the United States Supreme Court ruled on the case of Luna Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, determining that the Perez family could sue for damages under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), related to the school providing an inadequate education.

Miguel Luna Perez is a deaf individual who attended public school in Sturgis, Michigan. As reported on, Perez's lawyers argue the school system failed him by providing him an aide who was not trained to work with deaf students, did not know sign language, and who would leave Miguel alone for hours at a time. After more than 10 years in the school system, Miguel Perez did not know any formal sign language and communicated through "invented signs that anyone unfamiliar with his unique signing did not understand."

It was reported that during this time, the school awarded Miguel inflated grades, leading Miguel and his parents to believe he would receive his high school diploma. However, shortly before graduation, his family was informed he was only qualified to receive a "certificate of completion".

The Perez family subsequently sued the Sturgis school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The school district agreed to settle the IDEA claims with the Perez Family, agreeing to pay for extra schooling and sign language instruction for Perez and his family. After the IDEA settlement, the Perez family sought monetary damages under the ADA.

Lower courts ruled that Perez was not allowed to pursue his ADA claims because of IDEA language and the prior settlement.

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Perez, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing in an eight-page opinion on the case that the ruling "holds consequences not just for Mr. Perez but for a great many children with disabilities and their parents."

Perez's lawyer was quoted on saying on the day of the decision, "We are thrilled with today's decision. The Court's ruling vindicates the rights of students with disabilities to obtain full relief when they suffer discrimination. Miguel and his family look forward to pursuing their legal claims under the Americans with Disabilities Act."

Click here to read more on this story, and click here to read Justice Gorsuch's opinion on the case.

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