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Attorneys trying to hurry furlough case for disabled


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POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009

Attorneys who claim their eight disabled child clients are harmed each day they miss school while teachers are on furlough asked the federal appeals court yesterday to speed up its process and hear their case as early as next week.

“;The court already said they are suffering irreparable harm,”; said attorney Carl Varady. “;Four more furlough days are coming up. There's no way of making up some of the lost ground.”;

A federal judge denied their request earlier for a preliminary injunction to stop the state Department of Education from continuing the furlough plan that will close schools on 17 Fridays.

In the appeal filed yesterday, Varady and attorney Susan Dorsey said rules of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals require an expedited hearing in a case where harm is imminent. The appeal suggested the state be required to file its answer by Wednesday.

“;Typically, a hearing isn't set until both sides file briefs, which could be several months,”; Varady said. “;We filed our brief Wednesday.”;

The attorneys argue that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act prohibits the Department of Education from unilaterally changing the services the special-needs students receive.

In a ruling Nov. 9, federal Judge Wallace Tashima said he believes the “;plaintiffs are suffering irreparable harm,”; but denied an injunction. He reasoned that state officials implemented furloughs to cut the budget and that it was not a decision specific to the individual education programs for special-needs students.

State Attorney General Mark Bennett did not respond to a request for comment.