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.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.

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
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Federal Biden Calls for $130 Billion in New K-12 Relief, Scaled Up Testing, Vaccination Efforts
President-elect Joe Biden proposed new aid for schools as part of a broader COVID-19 relief plan, which will require congressional approval.
5 min read
First-grade teacher Megan Garner-Jones, left, and Principal Cynthia Eisner silent clap for their students participating remotely and in-person at School 16, in Yonkers, N.Y., on Oct. 20, 2020.
First-grade teacher Megan Garner-Jones, left, and Principal Cynthia Eisner silent clap for their students participating remotely and in-person at School 16, in Yonkers, N.Y.
Mary Altaffer/AP
Federal Who Is Miguel Cardona? Education Secretary Pick Has Roots in Classroom, Principal's Office
Many who've worked with Joe Biden's pick for education secretary say he's ready for what would be a giant step up.
15 min read
Miguel Cardona, first-time teacher, in his fourth-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Ct. in August of 1998.
Miguel Cardona, chosen to lead the U.S. Department of Education, photographed in his 4th-grade classroom at Israel Putnam School in Meriden, Conn., in 1998.
Courtesy of the Record-Journal
Federal Obama Education Staff Involved in Race to the Top, Civil Rights Join Biden's White House
Both Catherine Lhamon and Carmel Martin will serve on President-elect Joe Biden's Domestic Policy Council.
4 min read
Federal Opinion What Conservatives Should Be for When It Comes to Education
Education is ultimately about opportunity, community, and empowerment, and nothing should resonate more deeply with the conservative heart.
3 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty