The U.S. Supreme Court decided today on an important Special Education case: Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The case involved an autistic student from Colorado who also has and ADHD diagnosis. The school district argued that they only had to offer a program that was above the bare minimum of education, basically show any benefit, to be appropriate.
NPR reports this as The Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of A Special Education Student, including this paragraph:
School districts must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful, “appropriately ambitious” progress, the Supreme Court said Wednesday in an 8-0 ruling.
The decision was written by Chief Justice Roberts. He is quoted by an Education Week blog (Unanimous Supreme Court Expands Scope of Special Education Rights):
“When all is said and done, 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,” Roberts said.
“For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to ‘sitting idly … awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out,'” he added, quoting from key 1982 Supreme Court precedent on special education, Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley, that also dealt with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“The IDEA demands more,” the chief justice said. “It requires an educational program reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”
I will add: making progress in light of the child’s circumstances is what we expect for all students. This may be seen as “expanding the scope” of special education rights (as Education Week put it), but it is just brining special education rights up to the same standard as everyone else.
By Matt Carey