Two Illinois school districts have sued the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that some of the accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act should be invalidated because they are in direct conflict with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The 1,630-student Ottawa High School District 140, the 2,055-student Ottawa Elementary School District 141, and the parents of four students who attend schools in the districts filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Chicago on Feb. 3. Also named as a defendant was the Illinois state board of education.
Raymond A. Hauser, the lawyer representing the districts, said that the IDEA’S requirement that each special education student have an individualized education plan is contrary to the requirement under the No Child Left Behind law that special education students count as one subgroup whose test results help determine whether a school makes adequate yearly progress, the key measure for holding schools accountable under the law.
Getting a group of students to meet the goal of passing the state test required under the No Child Left Behind law demands a “categorical, systematic plan,” Mr. Hauser said, and that would require educators to adjust students’ IEPs to meet one goal, to the detriment of some children in special education.
“There are some kids who fall into this who are never going to meet state standards,” he said.
First Such Case
The suit asks the court to invalidate the sections of the No Child Left Behind Act that deal with the requirement to test students and the provisions for improvement of schools that do not make adequate yearly progress.
Tom Hutton, a staff lawyer with the National School Boards Association in Alexandria, Va., said the Illinois lawsuit is the first to claim that the No Child Left Behind law is in conflict with the IDEA.
The Illinois state board just received the suit and will be coordinating its response with the state attorney general’s office, said Naomi Velasquez-Greene, a spokeswoman for the board. The federal Education Department has no comment on pending litigation, said Ed Walsh, a department spokesman.
A version of this article appeared in the February 16, 2005 edition of Education Week as Suit Says NCLB’s Demands Conflict With Those of IDEA