The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) says that disabled students must have a high quality education. They were asked to answer this question: What is the level of educational benefit that school districts must confer on children with disabilities to provide them with the free appropriate public education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. so’s’ 1400 et seq.?
They write that these students must be able to advance their education and schools must provide the necessary tools.
Per Reuters: “The justices unanimously ruled in favor of an autistic student, Endrew F, and his family who said his local school district in Colorado’s Douglas County had failed him. They said schools must offer more than the bare minimum in educational benefits to disabled children, setting aside a lower court ruling that had found the school district had satisfied federal law by doing so.
Instead, the court said special education must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. A little backround is in order.
In 2015 the tenth circuit court found itself ruling on the same case that SCOTUS rooled on today. In Endrew’s case his parents pulled him out of a public school in the county located near Denver, frustrated with his lack of progress. In fifth grade they moved him into a private school specializing in autism, where he advanced quickly. They sued the school district in 2012, seeking to recover tuition costs.
The court said the district had satisfied its obligations under the law by providing a “merely more than de minimus” educational benefit and that Endrew had made “some academic progress.
On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts criticized that standard, saying it meant children would receive instruction that amounted to sitting idly, waiting to drop out. “A student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all,” he said.
Roberts said the current rules are fine for disabled children who are integrated in regular classrooms, but not for those who are not. Educational plans for them, he said, must still be “appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances.