U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Case on Special Needs Students

The United States Supreme Court heard arguments on January 11, 2017 in a case arising out of Douglas County, Colorado that will have a nationwide impact for parents of children that have difficulty learning in the traditional school environment. In the case before the Supreme Court, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, a child was receiving instruction through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for the early years of public school education. As the child’s behavior became more difficult nearing 5th grade, the school district made recommendations that the parents thought were insufficient to properly educate the child. The parents transferred the child to a private school and sued the school district under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for failing to meet the educational needs of the child.
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The Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether the IDEA requires a school district to provide 1) “some academic progress” that is more than simply “de minimis” (too trivial or minor to warrant consideration) OR 2) provide a benefit that is more substantial. Based upon the questions posed by the justices, it appears that there is great concern that the school districts are not being held to a high enough standard. The Court may end up struggling with the creation of a measurable guideline that can be used by all school districts for all students. The language of the law as is currently written leaves too much room for argument as to what constitutes “student progress”.

The attorneys at Howland Hess Guinan Torpey Cassidy & O’Connell, LLP remain available to assist any client who might be involved in a dispute with an individual school or a school district. Call today for a free consultation at (215) 947-6240 or contact us online.

 

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