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COPAA Files Amicus Briefs Urging Circuit Courts to Apply More Robust Standard of Endrew F.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Denise Marshall

COPAA Files 3rd Circuit Amici Brief Urging Court to Apply the New Standard in Endrew F. for Students with Learning Disabilities


COPAA, along with fellow amici, Education Law Center, New Jersey Special Education Practitioners and National Center for Learning Disabilities, filed an amici brief in the Third Circuit, K.D., by and through her parents, Theresa and Jonathan Dunn; Theresa and Jonathan Dunn, individually on February 27, 2018. COPAA members Kevin Golembiewski and David Berney drafted and filed the brief which was edited by Selene Almazan and Ellen Saideman on behalf of the amici.The amici brief supports the parents and urges the Court to reverse the district court’s decision granting judgment for the school district. Long time COOPAA members Catherine Merino Reisman, Judith Gran and Sarah Zuba represent K.D.


COPAA’s amici brief urged the Court to examine K.D.’s IEP through the appropriate standard announced in Endrew F. to challenge children with disabilities to reach their potential for progress just as their non-disabled peers are, regardless of the severity of their disabilities. Endrew F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. RE-1, 137 S. Ct. 988, 1000 (2017). To that end, COPAA explained how with appropriate, individualized interventions, most children with disabilities can bridge achievement gaps with their same age peers and meet IDEA’s expectation, which is that, “for most children, a[n] [appropriate education] will involve integration in the regular classroom and individualized special education calculated to achieve advancement from grade to grade.” See Endrew F., 137 S. Ct. at 1000.


Additionally, COPAA set forth how the district court’s conclusion that given the level of severity of K.D.’s learning disability in comprehension, reading and writing, only “fragmented progress” could reasonably be expected, was not in alignment with IDEA’s requirements designed specifically to protect children with disabilities from such misconceptions and low expectations. Finally, COPAA explained how with Endrew F.’s standard in mind, in this case, a child like K.D., who has a severe learning disability coupled with average-range intelligence, is certainly entitled to strive for “challenging objectives” because with appropriate special education services, K.D. should be able to bridge the gap between her current educational performance and grade-level performance.


Read COPAA’s Amici Brief


Read Appellant's Brief




COPAA Urges the Fifth Circuit to Apply More Robust Standard Found in Endrew F.


COPAA filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit, Renee J., as parent/guardian/next friend of C.J., a minor with a disability; Cornelius J., as parent/guardian/next friend of C.J., a minor individual with a disability on April 9, 2018. Selene Almazan, Jessica Salonus, Catherine Merino Reisman, and Ellen Saideman drafted and filed the brief for COPAA. The brief supports the parents and urges the Court to reverse the district court’s ruling granting summary judgment for the school district and grant judgment in favor of C.J. finding that C.J.’s transition plan and the school’s refusal to address his school aversion through the provision of homebound services, resulted in a denial of FAPE, or remand his case for further proceedings.The Cuddy Law Firm represents C.J.


In evaluating whether a school district has denied a student a free appropriate public education (FAPE) by failing to implement an IEP, Endrew F. teaches that the failure needs to be assessed by the likely impact on the students’ ability to “make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”Endrew F. v. Douglas Cty. Sch. Dist. RE-1, 137 S. Ct. 988, 1000 (2017).One area of the IEP measured for progress in light of the child’s circumstances is transition planning which makes goals and provides services for reaching those goals in order to prepare students with disabilities for further education, employment, and independent living. To that end, transition goals must be based on “age appropriate transition assessments” of the child’s current and future capabilities and the IEP must list the services that the school district will pr ovide to help the child accomplish them. 34 C.F.R. § 300.320(b)(1)-(2). In this case, COPAA explained to the Court how C.J.’s IEP denied him FAPE because it had transition goals and services which were wholly inappropriate and unrealistic for C.J. to prepare him for future employment and independent living given C.J.’s documented behavioral struggles and abilities.

Further, COPAA explained that the Supreme Court’s Endrew F. decision provided a markedly more robust standard for measuring whether a school district has provided a student FAPE than the Fifth Circuit’s Michael F. four-prong test, which was referenced and relied upon repeatedly throughout the district court’s decision.


Additionally, COPAA explained that a school district is not excused from its obligation to implement an IEP because a student’s disability causes school aversion and, as a result, the student is absent from school.Rather than engage in a blame game against parents of a child with a disability who is engaging in school aversion, it is the school district’s obligation to address the school aversion then, and, if the student will not come to school, provides services at home or in another alternative setting. To that end, COPAA addressed how the school district’s policy of denying home instruction to students with psychological disabilities, such as school aversion, violates IDEA.


Read Appellant’s Brief


Read COPAA’s Brief


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