The US Supreme Court unanimously vacated and remanded [opinion, PDF] a lower decision [opinion, PDF] regarding the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) [text, PDF] on Wednesday. The court ruled that to meet IDEA standards, a school must offer an “individualized education program” that is tailored to each child’s needs, finding that students with disabilities must have the chance to make meaningful, “appropriately ambitious” progress. Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District [SCOTUSblog materials] questioned whether a minimum standard was acceptable or an individualized program had to be created for each student under IDEA. Chief Justice Roberts wrote for the court, “[i]t 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.” There are currently almost 6.5 million students with disabilities in the US.
A complaint was filed [SCOTUSblog report] after parents of an autistic student felt their child did not receive significant benefits that were tailored to their child and his changing needs as he progressed and got older. A hearing officer found in favor of the school. The parents then filed a lawsuit in federal court, which also found in favor of the school. On appeal, the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit [official website] upheld the ruling [opinion, PDF], stating that the school merely needed to provide the child with a benefit that was “more than de minimis.”