The nation's high court has invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the federal government's views on a case involving the IDEA's

The nation’s high court has invited the U.S. solicitor general to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on a case involving the IDEA’s “stay-put” provision. (Ellen Creager/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

The U.S. Supreme Court is asking the Obama administration to weigh in on a case involving who should pay for private school tuition while special education disputes are litigated.

The high court asked the U.S. solicitor general on Monday to provide an opinion on a case known as Ridley School District v. M.R. which centers on the “stay-put” provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

Under the law, school districts must pay for students to remain in their existing educational placements while special education disputes between parents and schools are sorted out.

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However, the Ridley School District in suburban Philadelphia — joined by a handful of education groups — is arguing that a district’s obligation to pay for a private placement should end once a court rules in the schools’ favor, no matter if a child’s parents continue to pursue their claims.

The issue arose in the case of a child known as E.R. in court papers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia decided earlier this year that the Ridley School District remains responsible for private school tuition for E.R. while the child’s family continues to appeal their dispute even though a lower court found in favor of the district.

The Ridley School District was joined this summer by the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the National School Boards Association and the Pennsylvania School Boards Association in asking the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

Rather than accept or decline the case, however, the Supreme Court signaled on the first day of its new term that it will seek input from the nation’s solicitor general before determining whether or not to consider the “stay-put” provision.

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