Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School Dist., 509 U.S. 1, 2 (1993)

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receive an attenuated financial benefit. Mueller v. Allen, 463 U. S. 388; Witters v. Washington Dept. of Services for Blind, 474 U. S. 481. The same reasoning used in Mueller and Witters applies here. The service in this case is part of a general government program that distributes benefits neutrally to any child qualifying as disabled under the IDEA, without regard to the sectarian-nonsectarian, or public-nonpublic nature of the school the child attends. By according parents freedom to select a school of their choice, the statute ensures that a government-paid interpreter will be present in a sectarian school only as a result of individual parents' private decisions. Since the IDEA creates no financial incentive for parents to choose a sectarian school, an interpreter's presence there cannot be attributed to state decisionmaking. The fact that a public employee will be physically present in a sectarian school does not by itself make this the same type of aid that was disapproved in Meek v. Pittenger, 421 U. S. 349, and School Dist. of Grand Rapids v. Ball, 473 U. S. 373. In those cases, the challenged programs gave direct grants of government aid—instructional equipment and material, teachers, and guidance counselors—which relieved sectarian schools of costs they otherwise would have borne in educating their students. Here, the child is the primary beneficiary, and the school receives only an incidental benefit. In addition, an interpreter, unlike a teacher or guidance counselor, neither adds to nor subtracts from the sectarian school's environment but merely interprets whatever material is presented to the class as a whole. There is no absolute bar to the placing of a public employee in a sectarian school. Pp. 8-14.

963 F. 2d 1190, reversed.

Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which White, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Blackmun, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Souter, J., joined, and in which Stevens and O'Connor, JJ., joined as to Part I, post, p. 14. O'Connor, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Stevens, J., joined, post, p. 24.

William Bentley Ball argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the briefs was Thomas J. Berning.

Acting Solicitor General Bryson argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. On the brief were Solicitor General Starr, Assistant Attorney General Gerson, Deputy Solicitor General Roberts, Ronald J. Mann, Jeffrey C. Martin, and Susan Craig.

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