Legal Memorandum: Preliminary Injunction against Stay-put Orders

Issue: Under federal law, is the public interest served by granting a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order (TRO) abrogating an order that a child-pupil ‘stay-put’ in the context of the Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act (IDEIA)?

Area of Law: Education Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Preliminary injunction; Public interest; Stay-put order
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 665 F.2d 443; 428 F.3d 504; 297 F.3d 195
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 07/01/2014

Before the federal district court can issue a preliminary injunction, it must determine whether doing so is in the public interest.  P.C. Yonkers, Inc. v. Celebrations the Party & Seasonal Superstore, LLC, 428 F.3d 504, 508 (3rd Cir. 2005)

It is well settled that the stay-put provision itself is “[p]remised on the rationale that preservation of the status quo rather than an inappropriate reaction to an emergent situation provides for the best interests of the child.”  Tokarcik v. Forest Hills Sch. Dist., 665 F.2d 443, 453 (3d Cir. 1981).  The stay-put provision “guarantees consistency in a child’s learning environment until a challenge to an existing placement has successfully established that a superior alternative exists . . . [b]y preventing interruption and the concomitant risk of a setback in the child’s development.”  Id. at 453-54.

If a child is disrupted in his/her education by a stay-put order, then any child similarly situated faces complications with his/her education, and immediate adjudication of this stay-put determination by the ALJ would advance the public interest of preserving the services being offered to students with disabilities.  See Murphy v. Arlington Cent. Sch. Dist. Bd. of Educ., 297 F.3d 195, 199 (2nd Cir. 2002).


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