Arons v. Delaware

Scope of Statutory Rights and Remedies
Case Description: 

Petitioners Marilyn Arons and Ruth Watson are non-lawyers who assist parents at administrative hearings held under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA"). IDEA accords parents "the right to be accompanied and advised" by counsel or "by individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to children with disabilities." 20 U.S.C. 1415(h)(1). The Supreme Court of Delaware found that petitioners had engaged in the unauthorized practice of law ("UPL") by providing such assistance. The questions presented are:

  1. Does IDEA's guarantee that parents may be accompanied and advised by "individuals with special knowledge or training with respect to children with disabilities" entitle parents to have non-lawyer advocates appear on their behalf at IDEA hearings, as the Department of Education, the agency charged with administering IDEA, has consistently held for twenty years?
  2. Does IDEA impliedly preempt Delaware's UPL rules where, as here, the Department of Education has concluded that application of those rules to bar lay representation in IDEA hearings would "unquestionably subvert" the Act's core goal of empowering parents to challenge adverse school board decisions?

David Vladeck, Alan Morrison, and Amanda Frost were counsel for the petitioner. Cert was denied.