(Source: Journal Sentinel Online)

A disability advocacy group that lost its special-education lawsuit against Milwaukee Public Schools three weeks ago when a federal appeals court panel ruled in favor of the district is now asking for all the judges at the court to review the decision.

Disability Rights Wisconsin filed a petition Friday that asked all the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals judges in Chicago to re-hear the decision made by a three-judge panel on Feb. 3. The group says that the decision conflicts with how the Seventh Circuit has interpreted and decided other similar cases.

Specifically, the decision of the three-judge panel decertified the class in the 11-year-old class-action lawsuit and also vacated the liability and remedial orders that the school district was obligated to follow.

The 51-page ruling also tossed out the settlement the Department of Public Instruction reached with Disability Rights Wisconsin in 2008, saying that DPI’s settlement required more of the district than DPI had the statutory right to demand, a position on which MPS had long held firm.

The petition filed by Disability Rights Wisconsin asks the court to reconsider several issues, including the class-certification issue and whether the state has the authority to order MPS to take corrective action to reform special-education services.

These are questions of “exceptional importance,” said Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin.

The group brought the case against MPS and the DPI more than a decade ago on behalf of students who it claimed had been denied special-education services they were entitled to receive.

The group settled with DPI but not with MPS, which fought lower court decisions and then appealed to the Seventh Circuit.

(Source: Journal Sentinel Online)


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