The Supreme Court Just Ruled in Favor of a Special Education Student

In August 2015, the United States 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the school district did provide a "a free appropriate public education".

The high court did not mention Gorsuch's opinion in the earlier case, but it reversed a 10th Circuit ruling which had relied on it.

The appeals court then cited to the opinion by Gorsuch in a 2008 decision, Thompson R2-J School District v. Luke P.

The National Education Association applauds the Supreme Court for unanimously affirming that the IDEA is intended, and must be interpreted, to provide children with disabilities with an individualized education program that is "reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances". They placed him in private school, where he made rapid progress, and they sought reimbursement for tuition.

"But the district makes too much of them", Roberts said". "Within months, Endrew's behavior improved significantly, permitting him to make a degree of academic progress that had eluded him in public school".

Joseph and Jennifer said the private school was better able to meet their son's needs, but the district balked at shouldering the costs. That request was denied by an Administrative Law Judge, but the case moved forward. He was given specialized instruction to deal with his learning and behavioral issues.

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While conceding that Drew was not necessarily thriving at the District, it argued that the IDEA does not require that public schools do "whatever is necessary" to ensure the student achieve a particular level of ability and knowledge.

In his ruling, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that in deciding Rowley, the justices declined to endorse any one standard for determining "when handicapped children are receiving sufficient educational benefits to satisfy the requirements of the Act".

"It is in the nature of the Act and the standard we adopt to resist such an effort: The adequacy of a given IEP turns on the unique circumstances of the child for whom it was created", Roberts said, adding, "This absence of a bright-line rule, however, should not be mistaken for 'an invitation to the courts to substitute their own notions of sound educational policy for those of the school authorities which they review'". And yet Judge Gorsuch believes that students with disabilities are only owed an education that is barely more than the minimum.

More than 84,000 children are served in special education in Alabama's public schools.

"It can not be right", he continued, that federal law "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". "The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives", the opinion syllabus states. Up until now, a school district could feel confident that it was satisfying federal education law if it developed an IEP reasonably calculated to guarantee some educational benefit. For those who can not be fully integrated into the classroom, services must be designed such that the educational program is "appropriately ambitious in light of [the student's] circumstances".

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