The Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of parents who sued their son’s public school for not providing a free and appropriate education under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Their son, Drew, was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and had an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in place for the entire six years he attended his elementary school. After not achieving his IEP goals from kindergarten through fifth grade, Drew’s parents enrolled him in a private school for students with autism. Drew soon began making academic progress at his new school, so his parents sued the public school district for the private school tuition, stating that with the right instruction their son had the ability to learn.
When lower courts ruled against Drew’s parents, their case—Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District—went before the Supreme Court this past January. The ruling in favor of Endrew F. (Drew) is expected to have broad implications for special educators, including educational audiologists and school-based speech-language pathologists. According to a story from NPR, advocates for students with disabilities agree with the ruling and feel it’s time to increase IEP standards.
The opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, states: “It cannot be right that the IDEA generally contemplates grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated in the regular classroom, but is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not.”