From the eighth Circuit decision 98-1721

Appellees/defendants/cross-plaintiffs, Mr. and Mrs. James Mauney, frustrated with their inability to obtain an education for their severely physically disabled son, secured a due process hearing against the Little Rock School District (LRSD) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1400-1491o (1998).1 On February 3, 1997, a hearing officer found for the Mauneys and awarded compensatory education. The LRSD then initiated this action, claiming that the findings and award are not supported by the record. The Mauneys cross-claimed against appellants the State of Arkansas and its Department of Education (ADE), asserting claims under the IDEA and various other federal statutes.

After the district court denied in part the state’s and ADE’s motion for summary judgment, they filed this interlocutory appeal.

The State of Arkansas and ADE make only one argument: that because Congress does not have the power under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to pass legislation such as the IDEA, the purported abrogation of states’ Eleventh Amendment immunity in § 1403 of that Act is ineffectual and therefore the state and the ADE are not proper parties to the suit. We conclude that Congress had both the power and intent to abrogate Eleventh Amendment immunity and therefore affirm the district court’s determination that it has jurisdiction over the appellants.

This is a landmark IDEA case--- from August 10, 1999 case number 98-1721