On March 22, 2017, the U. S. Supreme Court issued an important decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas Unified School District as to the educational benefits an IEP must offer an eligible child.
The case concerned Endrew, a child with autism who attended school in the Douglas County School District. His parents believed he was making no academic progress, and pulled him out of school and enrolled him in a specialized private school for children with autism after the school district proposed an IEP that was similar to his previous IEPs. While at the private school, he was provided with new IEP goals and a behavior intervention plan, his behavior improved, and he made academic progress. Six months later, the school district offered what his parents believed to be an inadequate IEP for their son with no new behavior plan. As a result, his parents kept him at the private school and filed a complaint seeking tuition reimbursement for the private school, alleging that the school district had denied their son a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
The lower courts denied their claim. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the lower courts, ruling that a child's IEP is adequate so long as it is calculated to provide an educational benefit that is more than de minimus. For this reason, the Tenth Circuit concluded that Endrew's IEP had been reasonably calculated to enable him to make some progress. The Supreme Court reversed the Tenth Circuit Court's standard of merely more than de minims benefit. Instead, the Supreme Court ruled that "to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances."
Martha Millar Law
Special Education Law Firm