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Court rules for parents of disabled child

UPDATE: The Court’s brief order can now be found here.

Dividing 4-4 , the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld an appeals court ruling that parents of a disabled child are entitled to reimbursement of private school tuition even if the child has not previously received any public special education services. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy took no part, and the remaining eight Justices split.  The case had been granted in February; Kennedy announced his recusal from the case only on Sept. 19, not long before the case was to be heard, on Oct. 1, opening day of the Term.

The order in New York City Board of Education v. Tom F. (06-637) has the effect of upholding a Second Circuit Court ruling, but does not set a precedent for other cases, even on the same issue.

If the Court wishes to take up the question again fairly soon, it has pending on its docket another Second Circuit case that is available for review — assuming that there are no complications that would require any Justice to stay out of it.  The case is Board of Education, Hyde Parke Central School District v. Frank G., et al. (06-580).  The Court had considered both that and the New York City case at Conferences last February, before choosing the New York case as the one it would review. There was, of course, no explanation why they chose that one as the vehicle.  The Hyde Park case thus has been on hold.