If your child with a disability has an IEP then you are aware of the confusion surrounding what level of educational benefit is required from an IEP.
On September 29, 2016, the Supreme Court granted review of the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, No. 15-827. The legal question is: What is the level of educational benefit that school districts must confer on children with disabilities to provide them with a free and appropriate education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Does the educational benefit have to be “merely more than de minimis”?
The parents in Endrew removed their autistic child from public school and placed him in private school. The parents argued their son was not making adequate progress and his new IEP offered much of the same as the previous year. The parent’s claim for tuition reimbursement was denied on the basis that “some” educational benefit was received from the public school.
In Board of Education v. Rowley 458 US 176, the Supreme Court held that in order for a school district to meet its obligation to provide FAPE under the IDEA, the student’s program must be reasonably calculated to confer an educational benefit. The Supreme Court left the legal standard for “educational benefit” undefined.
The federal government recommended the Supreme Court review the case. The Supreme Court is reviewing the case in order to provide guidance to the lower circuit appeals courts. The circuit courts are divided as to whether the standard should be “more than de minimis” or something more rigorous. The 9th Circuit Courts follow the “some educational benefit” standard. The federal government sided with the parents in Endrew. The question is recurring and important.
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