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NEA Urges 6th Circuit Not to Rehear NCLB Case

Lawyers for the National Education Association are urging a federal appeals court not to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel of the court that revived the union's legal challenge to the No Child Left Behind Act.

The U.S. Court of Appeals of the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, is considering whether to give "en banc," or full court, review of Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The panel ruled in January that the states were not on clear notice of their potential financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal funding under the No Child Left Behind law.

In its February request for review of that ruling by the full 6th Circuit, lawyers for U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said "the ramifications of the decision are immediate and irreparable, and they extend for the indefinite future."

Now comes the response filed March 18 by the NEA, which organized the lawsuit on behalf of some of its state affiliates and nine school districts in Michigan, Texas, and Vermont.

"Plainly, the panel was correct in holding that the NCLB does not unambiguously put states and school districts on notice that, if they accept NCLB federal funds, they will be required to 'spend ... funds or incur ... costs not paid for under this act," the NEA brief says, quoting the "unfunded mandates" provision of the federal education law.

Robert H. Chanin, the general counsel of the NEA, told me today that it will probably be a few weeks before the 6th Circuit's judges decide whether to grant Spellings' request for the full review.

Read some of my most recent blog items on the case here and here, and our last big Education Week story on the case here.

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