The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on March 22 that public schools must do more to accommodate students with disabilities in one of the most significant special education cases to reach the high court in decades.
Writing for the court, Chief Justice John Roberts said a “child’s education program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances, just as advancement from grade to grade is appropriately ambitious for most children in the regular classroom.”
The unanimous opinion rejected a lower standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit including a 2008 opinion written by Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Any standard, the court said, that is not centered on “student progress would do little to remedy the pervasive and tragic academic stagnation that prompted Congress to act” when it passed the 1975 Disabilities in Education Act that provides federal funds to help states cover the cost of educating students with disabilities.
The case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, was pursued by parents of an autistic child who pulled the child from his public school and sought reimbursement for the cost of sending him to a private school where he made rapid progress.
Advocates said the ruling would push schools to set more ambitious goals tailored more carefully to each student’s particular needs.
The Washington Post, March 22