Lartigue v. Northside Indep, No. 22-50854 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Appellant sued the Northside Independent School District, arguing that the District failed to properly accommodate her hearing impairment as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the District, holding that Appellant’s ADA claim was barred by 20 U.S.C. Section 1415(l), the “exhaustion requirement” of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The Fifth Circuit vacated the summary judgment order; the court held that the district court erred in its interpretation of Section 1415(l). The court explained that the district court erred when it held that Appellant did not have a standalone claim under the ADA because the gravamen of her complaint was the denial of a FAPE. Under the plain text of Section 1415(l), “nothing in [the IDEA]” “restricts or limits” Appellant’s ability to assert her claim “under . . . the Americans with Disabilities Act.” The court noted that as Fry explained, “the IDEA does not prevent a plaintiff from asserting claims under [other federal] laws”—including “the ADA”—“even if . . . those claims allege the denial of an appropriate public education (much as an IDEA claim would). Further, the court wrote that it cannot affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment, as it would return the Circuit to the Smith era—an erroneous decision that would have “consequences . . . for a great many children with disabilities and their parents,” and one which Congress directly abandoned by enacting Section 1415(l).