On December 7, 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a question-and-answer document on the Supreme Court’s 2017 opinion in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, 580 U.S., 137 S.Ct. 988 (2017) (“Endrew”).  Endrew addressed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) clarifying the scope of a free appropriate public education (FAPE). The Supreme Court held that in order for a school to meet its substantive obligation under IDEA, it must offer an individualized education plan (IEP) “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”
Continue Reading Department of Education Releases Guidance on IDEA, FAPE, and Endrew F.

On Wednesday, July 13, 2017, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (the “Eighth Circuit”) made a significant decision regarding states’ ability to impose requirements for special education services to students.  The Eighth Circuit ruled that although under federal law the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does guarantee nonpublic school students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE), states are not prohibited from granting that right to private school students.
Continue Reading Decision by Eighth Circuit Panel Clarifies States’ Ability to Impose FAPE Requirements

In 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

On January 11, 2017, the Supreme Court took up its second case this term dealing with the educational rights of students with disabilities, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The case involves an autistic student, whose parents were not satisfied with his individual educational plan (IEP). The parents placed him in an expensive private school and sought reimbursement from the school district. The lower courts denied their request.
Continue Reading What Level of Educational Benefit Must Be Offered to Students with Disabilities?