Delineating Administrative Exhaustion Requirements and Establishing Federal Courts' Jurisdiction Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Lessons from the Case Law and Proposals for Congressional Action
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted through Congress's Spending Clause Power, is the principal federal statute aimed at insuring that children with disabilities receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the nation's public schools. The Act has spawned a substantial and growing body of litigation between parents and local and state educational agencies in federal and state courts during the last decade. During this period nearly 20%-21% of these cases have addressed the issue of exhaustion of IDEA's administrative remedies, and the related concern about federal courts' jurisdiction, when the law's exhaustion requirements have not been satisfied. This article examines and categorizes the case law on these issues. It considers whether IDEA's exhaustion requirement is a claims processing procedure or a jurisdiction-giving provision and challenges the majority view in the circuits where it is a jurisdiction-giving device. It proposes amendments to IDEA's section 1415, including the addition of provisions which state with particularity exceptions to IDEA exhaustion, emanating from the author's analysis of cases, and the establishment of guidelines to clarify courts' jurisdiction over IDEA disputes. The author asserts that Congressional implementation of the foregoing recommendations will advance IDEA's salutary purpose of affording each child with a disability a Free Appropriate Public Education by offering parents, agencies, and courts a more predictable and efficient structure for resolving disputes arising under IDEA and related statutes.
Lewis M. Wasserman,
Delineating Administrative Exhaustion Requirements and Establishing Federal Courts' Jurisdiction Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Lessons from the Case Law and Proposals for Congressional Action ,
29 J. Nat’l Ass’n Admin. L. Judiciary
Available at: https://digitalcommons.pepperdine.edu/naalj/vol29/iss2/1