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Practical Applications of Endrew F USSC Decision


The USSC reversed the 10th Circuit decision in Endrew F  in March, 2017 This unanimous decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, changed the long held assertion that schools did not need to offer more than minimal gains and is the "Brown v. Board of Education" for students with disabilities and their families.  COPAA expects this decision to be transformative in the lives of the students and families for whom the law is intended to benefit. The court said that each child needs to have the opportunity to learn, receive meaningful benefit, and meet challenging objectives under his or her Individualized Education Program, commensurate with the student's unique abilities.  


As COPAA noted in its amicus brief, along with fellow amici Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and the California Association of Parent Child Advocacy (CAPCA), the IDEA contains substantive requirements for appropriate programming. COPAA argued that the only way to determine whether the IEP meets these requirements is to analyze whether a school district has complied with all of the substantive obligations created by the IDEA.  Congress realized that the planning and initial offering of a particular educational program and course of study would not always lead to a program that would enable the student to make adequate educational progress.  As such, the IDEA requires that the school district make changes in the goals or the services in the IEP to enable the student to make progress.


The Endrew decision says: “To meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. Some children with disabilities will advance from grade to grade progressing smoothly through the general education curriculum. For those who cannot, their educational programs must be "appropriately ambitious." Their "goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives." 


For children being educated in the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, IDEA typically aims for grade-level advancement. For those educated in a modified general education curriculum, a school cannot satisfy its IDEA obligations by planning for "barely more than de minimis progress."  That is because when all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing 'merely more than de minimis' progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all."


Click here fore COPAA Brief - Endrew F.

Click here to read unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County Sch. Dist. (03/22/17)


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 Endrew Decision Creates Important New Opportunities for Students with Disabilities (9/2017) 

The Bazelon Center’s paper describes how Endrew rejects the “bigotry of low expectations.”   With needed supports, the Supreme Court observed, most children with disabilities are capable of meeting grade-level academic expectations.  Endrew requires schools to provide these students special education designed to enable them to become academically proficient and to advance from grade to grade.  For the small group of students with significant cognitive disabilities who cannot meet grade level standards, Endrew requires schools to provide special education that enables them to meet challenging and "appropriately ambitious” goals.  For these students, progress may be measured against “alternate academic achievement standards” designed to promote further education, work, and independence.  The Center is interested in hearing about your experiences in securing appropriate special education for students post-Endrew and in collaborating to advance implementation of Endrew. 

COPAA Webinar: Practical Applications and Methods for Using the Endrew F. USSC Decision in IEP Negotiations and Litigation (4/2017)

COPAA held a webinar, open to all members, to hear from attorneys and advocates about the application of the United States Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.A panel discussion with COPAA members Alexis Casillas, David Jefferson,Judith Gran, Catherine Merino Reisman, Barbara Ransom, and Ellen Saideman; moderated by Selene Almazan. Register to hear experienced members discuss the effects of the decision on students and families and share practice application and methods to utilize the USSC decision in IEP meetings and litigation.


Click here to view the Recorded Webinar (90 minutes)

Click here for Printable PDF of Webinar Slides

M.C. v. Antelope Valley Union High Sch. Dist. (9th Cir. 2017) 
(Case referred to in webinar)




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