Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools

Posted: January 1, 2017 by beguide in Uncategorized


WHAT HAPPENED:  Fry is/was a disabled student who wanted to bring her service dog to school.  Napoleon Community Schools (aka ASSHOLES) denied the request, but gave Fry a different accommodation that Fry did not find as suitable.  Fry sued under the ADA for civil damages relating to the School’s denial of her request and the harm associated with the School’s suggested accommodation.

WHY IS THIS BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT:  The Americans with Disabilities Act is the most common way to sue someone who fails to accommodate a disability; and although Fry would seemingly qualify in that regard, the School argues that Fry is required to bring her claim under the IDEA, which is a separate federal avenue for claims involving disabilities in the school setting.  The School’s position is that Fry was required to bring her claim under the IDEA first, and that only after that revenue was fully exhausted could Fry sue under the ADA.   Fry argues that the IDEA is not a realistic option because the damages Fry is seeking are not available in IDEA lawsuits, Fry is no longer a student at the school, and the IDEA avenue is wildly less effective (author’s inference).

WHAT ARE THE RAMIFICATIONS – For a case that seems like it should be about kids and dogs, there is a far greater focus on legal strategy and the muddled pathways of federal litigation.  While the School has a colorable argument about how the IDEA is the better venue for educational disability claims, it is slightly disingenuous for the School to suggest a venue where Fry cannot get the remedy she is seeking.  Fry will likely win this case because of the specifics of her lawsuit, but it does bring up a bigger question of whether or not anyone seeking a faster and more plaintiff-friendly venue would just avoid the IDEA altogether and sue under the ADA.  This was a focus at oral argument where the Court seemed in favor of Fry, but not sure how to craft a test that would set the parameters for later claims.

ROOT FOR FRY IF:  you are against government acronyms.

ROOT FOR NAPOLEON COMMUNITY SCHOOLS IF:  you don’t think children should have service dogs in school, YOU MONSTER!!



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