• Adam Dayan, Esq.

UPDATE: Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District

In October, I posted about the Endrew F. case, which is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court concerning what level of educational benefit is required for a student with a disability under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Since then there have been some important developments.


The federal government filed a brief in support of the child and his family, arguing that school districts should offer a program aimed at significant educational progress in light of the child's circumstances. A number of groups submitted amicus briefs. For instance, a group of 118 former and current members of Congress filed an amicus brief arguing that the IDEA intended to provide meaningful and material educational benefits so that students with disabilities could reach their potential and live independently.


Oral arguments happened last week on Wednesday, January 11. The transcript of the oral arguments follows in the link below, as well as an article that provides a thorough analysis:


https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2016/15-827_gfbh.pdf


http://www.scotusblog.com/2017/01/argument-analysis-justices-grapple-proper-standard-measuring-educational-benefits-children-disabilities/


From what I have gathered so far, the justices seem to be of the mind that students with disabilities are entitled to greater educational benefit than the bare minimum. However, they seem to be grappling with how to articulate a clear standard capable of implementation.


Some justices have expressed concerns about what additional costs this would impose on school districts; whether it is appropriate for the justices, who lack expertise in education, to be the ones creating this standard; how to deal with students who, because of their disabilities, are unable to follow the general education curriculum at grade level; and whether articulating a new standard would create a flood of litigation and lead to the Supreme Court becoming involved in other education-related decisions in the future.


SCOTUS is expected to issue a decision by the end of June 2017. Stay tuned.

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