Miguel Luna Perez of Michigan sued the public school system in Sturgis. Perez is now 27 years old. He is deaf and requires a certified interpreter to understand information.
According to Perez’s lawyers, the school system failed him by failing to provide a certified sign language interpreter. An aide who assisted him did not know ASL. However, she attempted to learn so-called Signed English from a book.
According to his lawyers, she essentially devised a signing system that only she and Perez understood, rendering him unable to communicate effectively with others. The school system also misled his parents into believing he was on track to graduate from high school. Just before graduation, his family was told by school officials that he only qualified for a “certificate of completion,” not a diploma.
In response, his parents filed claims under two different laws. The Americans with Disabilities Act is one law that forbids discrimination against those with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Act is the second law.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal special education statute that ensures public schools meet the educational requirements of students with disabilities. IDEA requires schools to offer special education services to eligible students as stated in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
IDEA also has specific provisions for ensuring a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities (LRE). FAPE and LRE have protected rights for every eligible child in all fifty states and territories of the United States.
Disabled students should have access to the resources they require. Disabled students in the United States have the right to a free and appropriate public education. However, schools are often ill-equipped to provide resources. When support is inadequate, disabled students like Perez frequently fall through the cracks.
Gresko, Jessica. “Justices Seem to Lean toward Deaf Student in Education Case.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 18 Jan. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/michigan-state-government-education-d10553f4ea6f73eef5585427de0fe370.
“IDEA.” NCLD, The United States Department of Education, 22 June 2022, https://www.ncld.org/get-involved/learn-the-law/idea/.