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Education Department Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit

The Education Department has asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit over the No Child Left Behind Act, the signature education policy of the Bush administration.

The National Education Association, several of its chapters and school districts in three states sued in April. Their case centers on a paragraph in the 2002 law that bans the federal government from mandating a state or district to pay for costs not covered by provisions of the law.

The department's response, filed late Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Michigan, says the plaintiffs have no standing to sue and that their case lacks any merit.

The agency contends the government has not ordered any state or school district to spend its own money to comply with the law. States and districts, which must meet conditions in exchange for federal aid, decide whether they must spend more, the agency's response says.

The lawsuit amounts to "no more than the use of a federal forum to proclaim an advocacy group's belief that states and school districts should be receiving more federal funds," the department's response said. "Such advocacy is not an appropriate use of the federal courts."

Schools that don't want to follow the law should refuse federal aid or advocate for more money, not "force the federal government to keep paying them when they do not fulfill" the law, says the department's motion, filed on behalf of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

The NEA and other plaintiffs say schools face billions of dollars in expenses to satisfy the law, from adding testing to ensuring that teachers are qualified. Their suit aims to free schools from complying with any part of the law not paid for by the federal government.

— Associated Press
San Francisco Chronicle


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