ENDREW F. V DOUGLAS COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT?
What is the significance of the recent Supreme Court decision
April 1, 2017 | View PDF
While states are able to receive Federal funds under the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, the State(s) must provide each eligible child with a free appropriate public education and each child under that program must have an individualized education program (IEP). Based on prior case law the education plan for the child must enable the child to make passing marks with appropriate progress and advance from grade to grade. The language was not confined to a single test.
Endrew F. is a child with autism and was enrolled in a public school through fourth grade. When he was ready to start fifth grade his IEP resembled prior plans and the parents believed that his functional and academic progress had stalled. The parents enrolled him into a private school program that offered such specialized education and Endrew was able to make significant progress. The School District them presented the parents with another IEP and it was their belief that the new IEP was no better than the prior one.
The parents then sued the School District seeking reimbursement for monies paid to the private school; the Colorado Board of Education ruled against the plaintiffs and it was upheld by both the Federal District Court and the Tenth Circuit. While the Court ruled the child must receive more than a de minimis education the Court believed Endrew’s IEP had been calculated to make some advance.
The United States Supreme Court via a Writ of Certiorari agreed to hear the case. In an 8-0 opinion it said that a child fully integrated into a regular classroom with an IEP only allows for a child with disabilities to have progress something more than a de minimis education while the same standard does not hold true for children who are not disabled.
The Court goes on to say that the Court is not in any way trying to establish what a reasonable plan is for every child and instead defers such expertise to the individual school boards. However, the Court does expect an increased ability of a child to make progress and not allow for such minimal progress when children not under an IEP are expected to achieve much more than minimal progress from grade to grade.
The decision of the Tenth Circuit was vacated and the case remanded back to the lower Court for reconsideration following the opinions of the United States Supreme Court. This decision should be a boon to children with disabilities that require IEP’s and hopefully allow such children a better opportunity to possibly be a functional and productive citizen following their education.
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