NCLB Lawsuit Remains Dismissed

Last Updated: June 25, 2010

This article appeared in the June 2010 Rural Policy Matters.

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The lawsuit that charged that No Child Left Behind was an unfunded mandate for states ended this month when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the case, effectively leaving a lower court’s dismissal of the action in place.

School Dist. of the City of Pontiac v. Spellings was brought by plaintiff districts from Michigan, Texas, and Vermont, and included Rutland Northeast Supervisory Union in rural Vermont. Those plaintiffs, along with ten NEA affiliate organizations, claimed that the federal education law clearly stated that it does not require states to incur any costs for the Act not paid for by the federal government. The plaintiffs claimed that federal funding shortfalls left states and districts responsible for an estimated $30 billion in costs of compliance.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals split evenly on the plaintiffs’ appeal of the district court’s dismissal, which the school districts had hoped the Supreme Court would overturn. The suit was filed in 2005.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan filed a brief in the case on behalf of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan defending NCLB. Duncan had said that the administration worked extensively to expand funding for school districts.

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