The most famous goldendoodle in America was outside the Supreme Court on Monday, October 31st, accompanied by some of his service dog friends. A Michigan school district’s refusal to allow Wonder, a trained service dog, to go to school with E.F., a student who was born with cerebral palsy and who required mobility support, was the catalyst for the first oral argument of the day, in Fry v. Napoleon Community Schools. Stacy and Brent Fry, E.F.’s parents, filed a lawsuit in federal district court, arguing that the school district violated two federal civil rights laws – the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 – when they barred Wonder from E.F.’s school. The technical question the justices will address is whether the Fry family must exhaust administrative remedies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 before they can pursue their suit for damages under the other federal disabilities laws.
CEC Policy and Advocacy staff had the opportunity to sit in on the Supreme Court hearing and hear the deliberation first hand. The argument analysis and the official hearing transcript can be read on the SCOTUSblog. The eight justices will vote on the case at their private conference this week. But it will likely be next year before we learn whether the Frys (and Wonder) will indeed prevail, and if so on what ground.