Supreme Court Unanimously Raises Bar For Educational Benefits For Children With Disabilities

By Claire Parker, Parent Herald March 24, 07:37 pm
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Morning light shines outside The United States Supreme Court building on March 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court sided with the parents of a special needs kid about raising the bar regarding the educational benefits of children with disabilities.
(Photo : Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court unanimously decided on Wednesday to raise the bar for the educational benefits for children with disabilities. The decision made was opposed to Douglas County School District (DCSD).

The latest ruling came after parents of an autistic child who studied at a DCSD school complained about their child who did not receive the level of public education required by federal law when it comes to special needs children. Chief Justice John Robert said it is not enough for school districts to offer minimal instruction for such children as school programs must calculate appropriate ways in order to help these kids progress despite their different circumstances.

The student, identified only as Endrew F., attended Summit View Elementary in Highlands Ranch. Endrew started to develop autism-related symptoms at the age of 2. Doctors diagnosed him to have ADHD at the age of three and this affected his cognitive functioning, language and reading skills, and social and adaptive skills. His parents wanted a reimbursement of $70,000, which include the child's tuition.

After his parents withdrew him from the public school, they transferred him to a private school. Castle Rock News Press reported this was where he made exceptional progress.

They questioned what exactly do children with special needs get as benefits under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), The Atlantic revealed. The court said in their decision it is not right that IDEA generally envisions grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated on the regular classroom but "is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not."

Around 6.4 million special needs kids represent 13 percent of all the students aged three to 21. Three hundred thousand leave school without completing their education and only 65 percent complete high school.

Despite the court's decision, some advocates for special needs kids believe the bar should have been set higher. The Supreme Court has yet to release a detailed information about what the restrictions of the benefits for special needs kids are.

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