A federal appeals court today agreed to re-examine a ruling by a panel of the court that revived a lawsuit challenging the No Child Left Behind Act for imposing unfunded mandates on states and school districts.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, in Cincinnati, announced that the entire 14-member court would rehear the case of Pontiac School District v. Spellings. The court's brief order is here.
The rehearing was sought by Bush administration lawyers on behalf of Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings after a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit ruled on Jan. 7 that the states were not on clear notice of their financial obligations when they agreed to accept federal money under the NCLB law. (See Education Week, Jan. 16 and Feb. 13, 2008.)
The administration’s request for rehearing had said that the ruling had “immediate and irreparable” ramifications. Last week’s action by the full 6th Circuit has the effect of setting aside the panel’s opinion. No date was set for the rehearing, but one source indicated that oral arguments may not take place until September.
The request for rehearing had been opposed by the National Education Association, which organized the legal challenge of the NCLB law on behalf of some of its state affiliates and nine school districts in Michigan, Texas, and Vermont.
The 6th Circuit court’s action came the same week that a federal district judge dismissed the state of Connecticut’s lawsuit against Secretary Spellings over NCLB funding issues. See my blog post on that decision.