A family sued a Michigan school district after it refused to allow a student with cerebral palsy to bring her service dog to school. The dog was not medically necessary for the child, but it allowed the child greater access to the school’s educational programs because it allowed her to be more independent. The family agreed that the child was receiving all of the services necessary for her to receive a free and appropriate public education, but argued that the district’s actions constituted disability-based discrimination against her.

The case was appealed up to the United States Supreme Court, which considered whether the family was required to go through the steps outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), or whether they could sue under other federal disabilities laws, such as the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Supreme Court held that the parents were not limited to IDEA and could potentially sue under other federal discrimination statutes. They could sue under the ADA if they were alleging only disability-based discrimination, without making reference to the adequacy of the special education services provided by the school. In other words, a school district can provide all the services required by the student under IDEA but still be subject to suit under other federal laws if it engages in disability-based discrimination against the student.

The case was sent back to a lower court to be reconsidered in light of the decision by the Supreme Court.