On January 11, 2017, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The Chief Justices listen to oral arguments from counsel for Endrew, Douglas County School District, and the Solicitor General. The Justices were concerned that there were varying standards among District Courts of Appeal. They were also concerned about setting a standard that would promote lawsuits and take away funds for services from students with disabilities.
The attorney for Endrew suggested, “… as a general rule, the IEP provisions and, therefore, the FAPE requirement of the Act, demands a level of educational services designed to allow the child to progress from grade to grade in the general education curriculum.” The attorney suggested that , where a student’s disability prevents him from progressing at that level, the school would set alternate achievement standards.
Counsel for the Solicitor General promoted a standard that “is reasonable calculated to make progress that is appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Justices seemed to rely on the Solicitor General’s “expertise” in these matters.
Counsel for Douglas County School District argued in favor of keeping a “more than de minimis” standard.
The Justices recognized that it is appropriate to revisit the standard in light of the revision of IDEA. They also believe there is ambiguity in the current standard which came out of Rowley.
We don’t know the exact standard that the Supreme Court will adopt. However, it seems they are leaning toward moving away from the “more than de minimis” standard. This would be a positive move for students with disabilities.
You can find the entire transcript here: https://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/2016/15-827_gfbh.pdf
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