In one of the most significant special education rulings in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District in favor of the student, thus requiring a higher standard of education for children with disabilities.
Like so many parents of students with special education services, Drew’s parents didn’t feel like he was making enough progress in his public school. Upon placement in a private school, Drew made substantially better progress, so the family sought reimbursement for the superior placement.
According to the federal guidelines, a student must show “some” educational benefit. Clearly parents and schools can come to odds over what constitutes “some” educational benefit. Prolific numbers of special education litigation have centered on this very issue.
After several rulings in favor of the school district, and in turn several appeals, the case landed in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. With much deliberation, the Supreme Court sided with the family, raising the bar for the educational benefits given to millions of children with disabilities across the country. The court reinforced the philosophy that a student’s programming should be “appropriately ambitious” relative to the student’s circumstances.
Disability advocates hail the ruling as a victory that truly underscores the intention behind IDEA. Amidst a time when the future of Special Education is at the heart of much concern and focus, the ruling assuages us of the forward path for our students.
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