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Supreme Court to take up case determining educational benefit required for students with disabilities

Should schools be required to provide students with disabilities an equal education to other students or just an adequate education?

That’s the question the U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to add to its docket this term. It’s an issue that could set the bar everywhere for how much educational benefit school districts should provide students with disabilities to constitute the free, appropriate public education guaranteed by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the parents of Endrew F., a minor with autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seek private school reimbursement under IDEA after pulling their son from public school over a proposed individualized education plan (IEP) for his fifth grade year. They did not believe the public school district, Douglas County School District in Colorado, was doing enough to provide their son an adequate education.

A lower court ruled that because the minor had received “some educational benefit,” the IDEA standard to provide free, appropriate education had been met.

Jack Robinson, an attorney for Endrew F.’s family, told The Denver Post last week that when it comes to educational benefit for students with disabilities, “there has to be a more heightened and robust standard than a little more than nothing.”

“This case has the potential of recognizing that children with disabilities have a right to a substantive education,” he said.

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