Jan 272012

K.M. v. Tustin Unified School District:
Compliance With IDEA Does Not Establish Compliance With the ADA

NVRC Note: The U.S. Department of Justice filed a brief in this lawsuit by a high school student who is deaf after being denied when she requested CART. ParentAdvocates.org notes that school districts are often confused in thinking that compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not mean the same as compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


On January 24, the Civil Rights Division participated as amicus curiae in support of the student-appellant in K.M. v. Tustin Unified School District, No. 11-56259 (9th Cir.). K.M. is a high-school student, who is deaf. She relies on her cochlear implants and lip-reading skills to communicate with others.


After losing at the administrative stage, K.M. sued the school district and alleged that the district denied her a free appropriate public education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) when it refused to provide her Communication Access Real-time Translation (CART) services. She also alleged that the district violated its communications obligation under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).


The district court held that the school district complied with the IDEA by providing various accommodations other than CART, including preferential seating and notes of class lectures. Significantly, the district court also held that the school’s compliance with the IDEA established its compliance under Section 504 and the ADA.


The Civil Rights Division argues that the IDEA and the ADA have different statutory elements and purposes. Pursuant to regulations implementing Title II, a public entity must provide communication to a person with a disability that is equal to that afforded persons without a disability. In contrast, under the IDEA, a school district must develop and implement an individual education program that addresses a child with a disability’s unique needs and provides a meaningful education benefit. Accordingly, the Division asserts that the district court erred when it concluded that the school district’s compliance


See the full brief at:


– Thanks to NVRC, Fairfax