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Deaf Michigan man appears to win Supreme Court’s sympathy as arguments begin

Source image: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/deaf-michigan-man-appears-win-supreme-court-sympathy-arguments-begin

The Supreme Court on Wednesday seemed sympathetic to the arguments of a deaf student who sued his public school system for providing an inadequate education, a legal challenge important for other disabled students and their families.

The question for the justices involves a federal law that guarantees disabled students an education specific to their needs. During 90 minutes in the courtroom, liberal and conservative justices suggested they were inclined to rule for the student, Miguel Luna Perez.

His lawyer, Roman Martinez, said that for 12 years, the public school system in Sturgis, Michigan, “neglected Miguel, denied him an education and lied to his parents about the progress he was allegedly making in school.”

DEAF MICHIGAN STUDENT FRONT AND CENTER IN KEY DISABILITY RIGHTS SUPREME COURT CASE

“This shameful conduct permanently stunted Miguel’s ability to communicate with the outside world,” Martinez said.

Justice Elena Kagan indicated that she believed the argument that Perez had done “everything right” in pursuing his case.

“It’s hard for me to see how that’s not true. What should Miguel have done differently from what he did do in this case?” Kagan said. The liberal justice suggested to a lawyer for the school system, Shay Dvoretzky, that such cases are pursued “by parents who are trying to do right by their kids.”

Perez, now 27, was in the courtroom. He watched with the assistance of American Sign Language translators and Certified Deaf Interpreters, who can help when a person’s communication skills are limited.

It remains difficult for Perez, who emigrated to the United States from Mexico at age 9, to make himself understood. Perez’s lawyers say the school system failed him by not providing a qualified sign language interpreter. An aide who helped him did not know ASL but tried to teach herself so-called Signed English from a book. She essentially invented a system of signing only she and Perez understood, leaving him unable to communicate with others, his lawyers said.

Miguel Luna Perez of Sturgis, Michigan, who is deaf, went before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, alleging his school district did not provide him adequate accommodations under federal law.

Miguel Luna Perez of Sturgis, Michigan, who is deaf, went before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, alleging his school district did not provide him adequate accommodations under federal law.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The school system also misled his parents into believing he was on track to earn his high school diploma. Just before graduation, however, his family was told he qualified only for a “certificate of completion,” not a diploma.

His family responded by pursuing claims under two laws: the broad Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against disabled people, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The latter guarantees children with disabilities a free public education that is tailored to their specific needs.

Perez’s family and the school district ultimately settled the IDEA claims. The district agreed to pay for extra schooling and sign language instruction for Perez and his family, among other things. The family then went to federal court and, under the ADA, sought monetary damages, which are not available under the IDEA.

Lower courts said the settlement barred Perez from pursuing his ADA claims in federal court. Perez’s lawyers said the 2-1 decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, written by Judge Amul Thapar, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, was out of line with every other federal appeals court that has considered the issue.

Former federal education officials were among those who told the Supreme Court in written briefs that the appeals court’s decision was wrong. The officials said upholding the lower court decisions would hurt children with disabilities by forcing them to choose between immediately getting issues resolved but forfeiting other claims or delaying to try to get fuller relief.

While the IDEA encourages settlements, upholding the lower court decision would force students and their families to “forgo speedy relief and waste time, money and administrative resources” to preserve their other claims, they said. The Biden administration also urged the court to side with Perez.

Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was among the justices who seemed inclined to agree with Perez. The liberal justice said it was her understanding that “Congress thought that dual actions at least in some circumstances were possible and that was fine.”

HIGH COURT BOLSTERS RIGHTS OF LEARNING-DISABLED STUDENTS

Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a conservative, noted that rejecting an IDEA settlement offer means risking not being able to seek attorneys fees. Her fellow conservative, Justice Neil Gorsuch, suggested that the text of the IDEA also supports Perez.

A national school board association and an association of school superintendents were among those who told the court in written briefs that lower courts were right. They said ruling otherwise would weaken the IDEA’s collaborative process to resolve issues and lead to more lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

Perez graduated from the Michigan School for the Deaf in June 2020 with a diploma. He said in a written statement provided with the assistance of an interpreter and a translator that he learned building skills at the school and wants to build houses as a job. His case at the Supreme Court is hard for him to understand, he said, though he understands part of it is “about having no interpreter.”

“I wish I could have gone to college,” he said. “I don’t have a job, but I want to have one. I want to make my own choices.”

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A decision in his case, Perez v. Sturgis Public Schools, 21-887, is expected by the end of June.

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/politics/deaf-michigan-man-appears-win-supreme-court-sympathy-arguments-begin

Politics

West Virginia House passes bill expanding advocate’s authority

West Virginia’s House of Delegates unanimously passed a bill Wednesday to expand the authority of the state foster care advocate to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect.

Before the 100-member House voted in unison in favor, Deputy House Speaker Republican Matthew Rohrbach said the bill is “really going to help to make this system accountable, which I think is something that everybody in here wants.”

Foster Care Ombudsman Pamela Woodman-Kaehler’s office is located within the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Inspector General. But she works independently as an advocate for foster children and parents, investigating complaints and collecting data about the state’s foster care system.

Her position was created in 2019 when the number of children under state foster care had swelled to about 6,900, up more than 60% from 2015, as the state continued to be ravaged by the national opioid crisis.

WEST VIRGINIA ADVANCES PUBLIC SCHOOL MANDATE ON ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’

She is a former child protective services worker in Harrison County and was the state coordinator for a federally-mandated review panel of the state’s Bureau of Children and Families.

The bill advanced to the Senate Wednesday specifies that Woodman-Kaehler’s office has the authority to investigate deaths, abuse and neglect involving children in the juvenile justice system.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The West Virginia House OKs a bill expanding the states foster care advocates authority. This bill will investigate abuse and neglect allegations.

The bill also would protect the identities of people providing confidential information during investigations, prohibiting the ombudsman and her staff from being required to disclose information about investigations or identify informants in judicial or administrative proceedings. It makes all memoranda, work product, notes and case files developed and maintained as part of an official investigation confidential, and not subject to discovery, subpoena or other means of legal compulsion.

Woodman-Kaehler told a House Health and Human Resources Committee meeting that the bill would help build trust between her and people reporting abuse and neglect, and encourage more people to come forward with information during sensitive investigations.

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“This frees up the ombudsman to give them much more control,” Rohrbach said Wednesday.

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Indiana Gov. Holcomb’s public health expansion passes legislative panel

The Indiana governor’s proposal for a broad expansion of county-level public health programs won its first endorsement from state legislators on Wednesday.

The state Senate’s health committee voted 12-0 in support of a bill laying out the responsibilities that local health departments would have if county officials accept a major increase in state funding being sought by Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, several medical organizations and business groups urged lawmakers to support the plan, pointing to Indiana’s poor national rankings in areas such as smoking, obesity and life expectancy.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION EXTENDS COVID-19 PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY YET AGAIN

The governor’s plan would direct $100 million in the next state budget year and $200 million in the following year toward boosting Indiana’s county public health department funding from its 45th-place national ranking. The state now directs about $7 million a year to county health departments, which are primarily funded by local taxes.

While county officials would have the option of accepting the money and expanding services, some opponents with grievances over government-ordered COVID-19 precautions told the committee they feared the plan would result in the state health department gaining more authority.

The bill approved by the committee would establish “core public health services” to be provide by county departments. Those would include access to required childhood vaccinations, emergency preparedness, restaurant and sewage system inspections, communicable disease prevention and smoking cessation programs.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state's public health infrastructure

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box speaks alongside Gov. Eric Holcomb on the proposed expansion of the state’s public health infrastructure
(AP Photo /Tom Davies)

A commission appointed by Holcomb found that all but about six of Indiana’s 92 counties are spending less than half the national median per person on public health efforts.

“Where you live in Indiana currently determines whether your local health department can provide you the full range of public health services,” Box told the committee.

Leaders of the Republican-dominated Legislature have generally supported Holcomb’s proposal but have not committed to granting his full funding request. Lawmakers might not make that decision until a new state budget plan is completed in April.

Statewide organizations representing county officials told the committee Wednesday they believed local leaders would keep control by deciding whether to opt into the expansion program or maintain state funding levels.

Some county leaders, however, said they believed the expansion would eventually lead to state control of local health departments.

INDIANA AG FIGHTS COVID-19 MISINFORMATION, POINTS FINGER AT GOVERNMENT HEALTH AGENCIES

“I would prefer the state to provide grants on a topic-by-topic basis with local control on whether to accept the grant or not and how we handle that guidance, not mandates, from the state after the COVID destructive mandates,” said Brad Rogers, a Republican county commissioner from northern Indiana’s Elkhart County.

Senators cited concerns about long-term health problems across the state, while plan opponents who spoke focused on issues such as complaints over federal approval of COVID-19 vaccines and Holcomb’s executive orders early in the pandemic for business closures and a face mask mandate. One opponent argued the plan would lead to what he called more government “tyranny.”

Similar grievances were aired to Indiana lawmakers as they debated a proposal last year that failed to win passage aiming to severely limit the COVID-19 vaccine requirements that businesses could impose on employees.

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“We have high infant mortality rates,” Republican Sen. Vaneta Becker of Evansville said as she voted in favor of the health plan Wednesday. “We have high obesity, lots of health issues in the state that need to be addressed.”

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Politics

President Biden’s physical delayed due to travel schedule, White House says

President Biden will receive a physical examination on Feb. 16 after weeks of delays that a spokesperson attributed to a “busy and evolving travel schedule in recent weeks.”

Biden, the oldest president in history, is expected to announce his bid for re-election in the coming weeks. He would be 86-years-old by the end of his second term.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre faced a series of questions on Biden’s physical in the new year and promised a shared report by the end of January.

BIDEN GRABS NBC REPORTER’S HAND AS HE STEPS UNDERNEATH HER UMBRELLA TO ANSWER HER QUESTION

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.

President Biden will receive a physical on Feb. 16 after broken promises from the White House to have one conducted by the end of the past two months.
(Screenshot/Twitter)

“He will have one before the — by the time the end of this month is out,” Jean-Pierre said in January. “We will share the information. We will have more to share about that before the month is over.”

This followed a promise from Biden himself in November to have a physical conducted by the end of December.

“I’ve gotten my — I will get — part of my physical is already done, and I’ll be getting it before the end of the year,” Biden said.

BIDEN’S FINAL WEEK OF CAMPAIGNING PLAGUED WITH GAFFES: ‘WHAT’S HIS NAME?’

The White House said President Biden's delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.

The White House said President Biden’s delayed physical is due to his busy travel schedule.
(Getty Images)

While the White House said the delay is due to his travel schedule in January, Biden spent time at his Delaware properties every weekend that month — 13 days in total. Other travel included Mexico for a summit, then trips to Kentucky, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, California and New York to tout his policy agenda.

BIDEN DAILY GAFFE AVERAGE: THE PRESIDENT IS BATTING NEARLY A THOUSAND

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.

President Biden last had a physical in November 2021.
(Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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Speculations on Biden‘s health follow the delayed physical, consistent mental gaffes and an eight-hour stay at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in January as first lady Jill Biden had two cancerous skin lesions removed. The president’s last physical was reported in November 2021 and detailed his prescriptions for high blood pressure and blood thinner treatments.

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