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Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District

The Facts Of The Case

Larry Zobrest, a deaf high school student in Arizona, requested that his school district provide him with a sign language interpreter as mandated under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The school district declined, on the advice of the county attorney, claiming that such a provision would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. Arizona's attorney general concurred in this opinion, so Zobrest and his parents filed an action in U.S. District Court. Before the case was heard, both parties agreed that the provision for sign language instruction was in fact mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, and that the school district would have supplied the interpreter if Zobrest had attended a non-religious school. But Zobrest and his parents disputed the claim that the aid they were seeking violated the separation of church and state and asked for reimbursement from the state for the cost of hiring their own sign language interpreter. The school district filed a motion for summary judgment on its claim that such aid violated the U.S. Constitution.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District - Historical Background, The Facts Of The Case, The Lower Courts Rule, The Supreme Court Rules