High Court Backs More Robust Standard For FAPE

The following article was written by Michelle Diament, March 22, 2017, Disability Scoop

The U.S. Supreme Court set a higher bar for school districts in a ruling this week addressing IDEA’s mandate that public schools provide kids with disabilities a free appropriate public education.

In a unanimous ruling with major implications for special education, the U.S. Supreme Court said that public schools must provide students with disabilities more than a minimal benefit.

The decision issued Wednesday comes in a case known as Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, which pitted the parents of a Colorado boy with autism against their school district.

After Endrew F. made little progress attending public school, his parents placed him at a private school and sought reimbursement. However, a lower court rejected their claim saying that reimbursement was unwarranted since the boy received “some” educational benefit.

In reversing that ruling this week, the Supreme Court affirmed a higher standard for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandate that students with disabilities be provided a free appropriate public education.

“We expect this unanimous decision to be transformative in the lives of student with disabilities,” said Denise Marshall, executive director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. “Today the (Supreme Court) affirmed what we know to be the promise of the IDEA.”

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