Supreme Court SunriseIn yesterday’s unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1, the Supreme Court articulated the standard by which federal courts should evaluate challenges to individualized education programs (“IEPs”) for students with disabilities.  To pass muster under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), an IEP, according to the Court, must be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”  Op. at 14-15.

The IDEA specifically requires that students with disabilities receive a “free appropriate public education” (“FAPE”), a term that is itself undefined in the statute.  The Supreme Court initially faced the interpretation of the FAPE requirement thirty-five years ago in Board of Education of Hendrick Hudson Central School District, Westchester County v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176 (1982).  In Rowley, the Court made some general observations about the FAPE standard, but confined its ruling to the specific facts of the case, leaving the question of what substantive standard applies to another day. Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Special Education Standards

Family paper chainOn February 22, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion in Fry ex rel. E.F. v. Napoleon Community SchoolsFry addresses the circumstances in which parents must exhaust the administrative remedies found in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), when their lawsuit purports to assert claims only under other federal discrimination statutes—namely, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.  The Court held, unanimously, that parents must exhaust IDEA’s administrative procedures only when the “substance, or gravamen, of the plaintiff’s complaint” seeks relief for the denial of a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Administrative Exhaustion Requirements Under IDEA

The U.S. Department of Education (the “Department”) yesterday published proposed regulations in the Federal Register concerning the supplement-not-supplant requirement of Title I of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This is the first time that the Title I supplement-not-supplant requirement contains an express legislative directive regarding how a local education agency (LEA) must demonstrate compliance. For this reason, the Department proposed the regulations to provide clarity about how LEAs can demonstrate that the distribution of State and local funds satisfies the statutory test. Based on the Department’s Fact Sheet, the proposed regulation would mean up to $2 billion annually in additional funding for the highest need schools and students. Continue Reading Supplement-not-Supplant under Title I: Department of Education Releases Proposed Regulations

PrintOn July 26, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued a Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide on Students with ADHD. The Dear Colleague Letter and Resource Guide confirm that, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, school districts are required to provide equal educational opportunities to students with attention deficit disorder (“ADD”) and students with attention deficient hyperactivity disorder (“ADHD”). Continue Reading Department of Education’s Recent Guidance on Students with ADD and ADHD: What Are Your Responsibilities?