Federal

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

By Andrew Trotter — June 30, 2005 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

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
Classroom Technology Webinar
Seamless Integrations for Engagement in the Classroom
Learn how to seamlessly integrate new technologies into your classroom to support student engagement. 
Content provided by GoGuardian
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
Recruitment & Retention Webinar
Be the Change: Strategies to Make Year-Round Hiring Happen
Learn how to leverage actionable insights to diversify your recruiting efforts and successfully deploy a year-round recruiting plan.
Content provided by Frontline
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
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Critical Ways Leaders Can Build a Culture of Belonging and Achievement
Explore innovative practices for using technology to build an environment of belonging and achievement for all staff and students.
Content provided by DreamBox Learning

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 Conservatives Hammer on Hot-Button K-12 Education Issues at Federalist Society Event
The influential legal group discussed critical race theory, gender identity, and Title IX.
6 min read
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks at the Phoenix International Academy in Phoenix on Oct. 15, 2020.
Former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was among a phalanx of conservatives addressing K-12 issues at a conference of the Federalist Society.
Matt York/AP
Federal Cardona Back-to-School Tour to Focus on Teacher Pipeline, Academic Recovery
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will spend a week traveling to six states to highlight a range of K-12 priorities.
2 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona continues a tradition of on-site visits by the nation's top education official as the school year opens.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week
Federal Biden's Student Loan Forgiveness: How Much Will It Help Teachers?
Advocates say Black educators—who tend to carry heavier debt loads—won't benefit as much.
5 min read
Illustration of student loans.
alexsl/iStock/Getty
Federal Q&A U.S. Education Secretary Cardona: How to Fix Teacher Shortages, Create Safe Schools
In an exclusive interview with Education Week, the secretary looks ahead to the challenges of this school year.
10 min read
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, August 23, 2022.
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona answers questions during an interview in his office in Washington on Aug. 23.
Alyssa Schukar for Education Week