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A school district does not have a private right of action to sue another district under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a federal judge has determined.

Northern District Judge Lawrence Kahn (See Profile) dismissed the attempt of the Brunswick Central School District in Rensselaer County to sue the Gill Montague Regional School District of Turner Falls, Mass., to recoup the $67,719 it cost Brunswick to educate a special education student who transferred from Turner Falls for two school years, 2010 to 2012.

Kahn said he could find no other case directly on point in which a school district had attempted to assert its right to sue another district under the IDEA. Typically, the act is used by parents seeking educational accommodations for their special needs children above what districts are willing to provide.

The language establishing IDEA “strongly suggests” that Congress only intended it to provide a private right of action to disabled children and their parents, Kahn wrote from Albany in Brunswick Central School District v. Gill Montague Regional School District, 1:13-cv-0445. Furthermore, he wrote, the act appears to bar a school district from bringing a tuition-related claim in federal court in the absence of an administrative grievance filed by a parent or disabled child.

“Here, plaintiff is not appealing an administrative decision from a grievance filed by a parent or disabled child,” Kahn wrote. “Thus plaintiff’s claim does not fall within the scope of the IDEA’s private right of action.”

Partner Matthew Kelly of Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux represented Brunswick. Douglas Rose, an associate with Tully Rinckey in Albany, argued for the Gill Montague district.