Happening Today: Education Week Leadership Symposium. Learn more and register.
Federal

U.S. Asks Court to Throw Out NEA Lawsuit Over NCLB

By Andrew Trotter — June 30, 2005 2 min read

States and school districts may be required to spend their own money to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Act if they choose to accept federal funds under the law, the Bush administration argues in its formal reply to a lawsuit by the National Education Association.

In court papers filed June 29, the administration asked a U.S. District Court judge in Detroit to dismiss the lawsuit, which was filed in April. The motion attacks the lawsuit’s central claim that the U.S. Department of Education’s implementation of the sweeping education law violates that statute’s ban on issuing “unfunded mandates” to states and school districts.

The government also challenged whether the Washington-based national teachers’ union, 10 of its affiliates, and six school districts that are also plaintiffs have the legal standing to sue on behalf of states and school districts across the nation.

The lawsuit’s main argument hinges on a proviso in the 3-year-old federal law that prohibits “an officer or employee of the federal government to ... mandate a state or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this act.”

The plaintiffs charge in Pontiac v. Spellings that the Education Department has issued thousands of pages of regulations under the NCLB law that states and districts must collectively spend billions of dollars to obey, often through measures that are costly, “absurd,” and detrimental to their educational programs. The suit does not ask the court to strike down the education law but to relieve schools of the obligation of spending their own money to comply with it.

Evading Accountability?

In its formal reply, the U.S. Department of Justice argues that Congress conditioned federal aid to states and districts upon their meeting the law’s obligations, which could entail spending their own money.

“Plaintiffs ignore the fundamental distinction between a condition of assistance imposed by Congress and an ‘unfunded mandate’ imposed by ‘federal officers or employees,’” the motion states.

The lawsuit attempts to create “an inadequate funding excuse” for failing to meet NCLB requirements, a step that would “thwart the law’s primary purpose, which is to hold states and school districts that accept federal funds accountable for achieving improved educational results,” the government contends.

States and districts wanting to avoid the burden of NCLB requirements may instead decline federal funding or advocate for more of it, but they should not be able to “force the federal government to keep paying them money when they do not fulfill the statutory conditions,” the government said.

The motion asks the court to dismiss the lawsuit “with prejudice,” meaning that the plaintiffs would not be allowed to make the same claim again.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Law & Courts Webinar
The Future of Criminal Justice Reform: A Sphere Education Initiative Conversation
America’s criminal justice system is in crisis and calls for reform are dominating the national debate. Join Cato’s Sphere Education Initiative and Education Week for a webinar on criminal justice and policing featuring the nation’s
Content provided by Cato Institute
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Equity, Care and Connection: New SEL Tools and Practices to Support Students and Adults
As school districts plan to welcome students back into buildings for the upcoming school year, this is the perfect time to take a hard look at both our practices and our systems to build a
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Here to Stay – Pandemic Lessons for EdTech in Future Development
What technology is needed in a post pandemic district? Learn how changes in education will impact development of new technologies.
Content provided by AWS

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Biden Taps Ex-Obama Aide Roberto Rodriguez for Key Education Department Job
Rodriguez served as a top education staffer to President Barack Obama and currently leads a teacher-advocacy organization.
3 min read
BRIC ARCHIVE
Getty
Federal Biden Pitches Plan to Expand Universal Pre-K, Free School Meal Programs, Teacher Training
The president's $1.8 trillion American Families Plan faces strong headwinds as Congress considers other costly administration proposals.
8 min read
President Joe Biden addresses Congress from the House chamber. Behind him are Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress Wednesday night, as Vice President Kamala Harris, left, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., applaud.<br/>
Chip Somodevilla/AP
Federal Education Department Kicks Off Summer Learning Collaborative
The Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative will boost programs for students acutely affected by COVID-19 in 46 states.
2 min read
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic on March 3, 2021.
Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, left, talks with Fort LeBoeuf Middle School teacher Laura Friedman during a discussion on safely returning to schools during the COVID-19 pandemic in March.
Greg Wohlford/Erie Times-News via TNS
Federal As 100-Day Mark Approaches, Has Biden Met His School Reopening Goal? And What Comes Next?
President Joe Biden faces a self-imposed deadline of having most K-8 schools open for in-person learning by his hundredth day in office.
6 min read
First Lady Jill Biden and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., on March 3, 2021.
First lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona tour Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, in Meriden, Ct., in March.
Mandel Ngan/AP