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Supreme Court Unanimously Expands Reach of Special Education Rights

Categories: Funding & Awards

According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a student with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) must gain an educational benefit while in school. However, how much of an educational benefit has varied from district to district - until now.

Supreme Court

On Wednesday, March 22nd, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a major decision. In a unanimous ruling, the high court rejected the "merely more than de minimis" standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, in Denver.


Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that schools must offer an individualized education program that is "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light of the child's circumstances."


This ruling comes from the Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District case. At the center of this case is "Drew," a student who has autism and ADHD. Drew had an IEP at his public school in Colorado. After attending the school from Kindergarten through 4th grade, his parents say he made minimal progress and his IEP goals were largely unchanged. Drew's parents placed him in a private school that focuses on autism, and they say progress began. Drew's parents felt he was denied a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) due to the lack of progress. The school district argued that the small progress Drew made was enough under the law. Today, in a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said that in order to meet obligations under IDEA, a school must offer an IEP that is "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress in light on the child's circumstance."

Read the full report from the Supreme Court here.

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