Why SCOTUS’ Special Ed Decision Matters to Advocates
March 23, 2017

The case.

Endrew v. Douglas County School District.

The decision.

In a unanimous 8-0 decision, the Supreme Court decided Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) must be “appropriately ambitious” in light of the child’s circumstances. The court had previously ruled that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires IEPs—considered the hallmark of special education in America—to be reasonably calculated to enable the child to receive educational benefits. However, the court left the question of what is considered an adequate educational benefit to be answered. Subsequently, many lower circuits ruled IEPs must offer benefits which are merely more than de minimis, an extremely low standard which left children with disabilities no legal recourse if they were barely progressing in school. This recent decision expressly rejected that low standard.

Why it matters to state advocates.



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