The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with a disabled Michigan girl whose school refused to let her bring her service dog to class, making it easier for students like her to seek redress for discrimination in federal court.
The justices ruled 8-0 that Ehlena Fry, 13, and her parents may not be obligated to go through time-consuming administrative appeals with the local school board before suing for damages for the emotional distress she said she suffered by being denied the assistance of her dog, a goldendoodle named Wonder.
Ehlena was born with cerebral palsy, a neurological condition that severely limited her mobility. Wonder was trained to help her balance, retrieve dropped items, open and close doors, turn on lights, take off her coat and other tasks.
“I saw with my own eyes how Wonder helped my daughter grow more self-reliant and confident,” Stacy Fry, Ehlena’s mother, said in a statement. “We are thankful that the Supreme Court has clarified that schools cannot treat children with disabilities differently or stand in the way of their desired independence.”
The justices sent the case back to a lower appeals court to determine whether Ehlena’s complaint involves the impermissible denial of a proper special education.
The dispute arose in 2009 when Ehlena’s elementary school in Napoleon, Michigan refused to allow her to attend school with Wonder. The school said she already had a one-on-one human aide, as part of her individualized special education program.
The family eventually moved to a different school district where Wonder was welcomed. They filed suit in 2012 in federal court, claiming discrimination under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, which permits service dogs in public institutions.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the family, said the ruling will remove unfair legal hurdles for victims of discrimination that prevent students from seeking justice guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Napoleon Community Schools Superintendent Jim Graham said he had no comment.
Ehlena and her parents sued the school district seeking money damages for emotional harm, claiming the school deprived Ehlena of her independence, including in intimate settings such as the bathroom.
Wednesday’s ruling overturned a 2015 decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio upholding a dismissal of the lawsuit. The appeals court had said that under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal law governing special education, the family had to exhaust all of the administrative hearings in its service dog dispute with local and state officials before filing suit.
Writing for the court on Wednesday, Justice Elena Kagan said that if the substance of a lawsuit does not claim the denial of a proper special education under IDEA, then exhausting the administrative remedies is not required.
Black Georgia lawmaker accuses white man of demanding she ‘go back where she came from’ in supermarket diatribe
On Friday evening, Erica Thomas, and African-American Democratic lawmaker in the Georgia House of Representatives, was shopping at a Publix supermarket in Mableton when a white customer came up to her and shouted at her, telling her to "go back where you came from" — words echoing President Donald Trump's recent racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen of color.
Thomas' crime? She had too many items for the express checkout line.
Today I was verbally assaulted in the grocery store by a white man who told me I was a lazy SOB and to go back to where I came from bc I had to many items in the express lane. My husband wasn’t there to defend me because he is on Active Duty serving the country I came from USA!
Trump offers to guarantee bail for rapper A$AP Rocky
US President Donald Trump offered Saturday to guarantee the bail of rapper ASAP Rocky, detained in Sweden on suspicion of assault following a street brawl.
Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who he said gave assurances that the singer would be treated fairly.
"Likewise, I assured him that A$AP was not a flight risk and offered to personally vouch for his bail, or an alternative," Trump wrote.
There is no system of bail in Sweden.
Trump said he and Lofven had agreed to speak again over the next 48 hours.
Fans, fellow artists and US Congress members have campaigned for the 30-year-old artist, whose real name is Rakim Mayers, to be freed since his arrest on July 3 following the fight on June 30.
The best Civil War movie ever made finally gets its due
On Sunday and on July 24, Turner Classic Movies and Fathom Events are presenting big-screen showings in theaters nationwide of “Glory,” in honor of the 30-year anniversary of its release. The greatest movie ever made about the American Civil War, “Glory” was the first and, with the exception of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” the only film that eschewed romanticism to reveal what the war was really about.
The story is told through the eyes of one of the first regiments of African American soldiers. Almost from the time the first shots were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C., the issue of black soldiers in the Union army was hotly debated. On Jan. 1, 1863, as the country faced the third year of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, rapidly accelerating the process of putting black men into federal blue.