Supreme Court to Hear Special Education Case

     (CN) – The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to consider how much help public schools must provide to ensure that students with disabilities get an appropriate education.
     The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, is an appeal from two Colorado parents who want their school district to reimburse them for the cost of their autistic son’s private school.
     It will resolve a split among federal appeals courts over the standards schools must meet under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
     The parents, identified as “Joseph F.” and “Jennifer F.” in court documents, enrolled their son, Endrew, in private school for fifth grade after he had a difficult year in public school in the fourth grade.
     They said the Douglas County School District failed meet the needs of their son, who frequently exhibited behavioral issues, and as a result, he made little progress in class.
     Joseph and Jennifer said the private school was better able to meet their son’s needs, but the district balked at shouldering the costs.
     The parents filed a complaint with the Office of Administrative Courts. “The IDEA seeks to provide children with genuine access to public education,” they argued. “School districts that provide only a just-above-trivial benefit cannot achieve this objective.”
     The Office of Administrative Courts did not agree, and in September 20154, U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock affirmed its decision.
     The case then moved to the 10th Circuit, which said the school district need only provide “some educational benefit.”
     In their petition for a writ of certiorari, Endrew’s parents said that standard simply doesn’t meet the Disabilities Education Act’s goals.
     The Obama administration joined the parents in urging the High Court to adopt the standard the parents are seeking.
     The school district, in arguing against Supreme Court review, said the decision to impose the higher standard the parents are seeking should be made by the state legislature, not the courts.
     The Act allows children with learning disabilities to be placed in private schools at taxpayer expense if public schools can’t provide a “free appropriate public education.”
     The Supreme Court last offered its interpretation of what that means 34 years ago, but lower courts disagree on how the 1982 ruling should be interpreted.

%d bloggers like this: