The United States Supreme Court’s 2017 Decision in the Endrew F. Case

The United States Supreme Court’s 2017 Decision in the Endrew F. Case


Both the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Delaware State law require that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) be made available to all eligible children with disabilities.  FAPE is an individualized program of special education and related services that are provided, at no cost to the parents, to a child with a disability according to that child’s IEP (individualized education program).

The IEP is the written “blueprint” for each child with a disability that includes detailed information about the special education and related services the child will receive, including:

  1. A statement of the child’s current levels of academic achievement and functional performance:
  2. Goals for the child’s education;
  3. How the child’s progress toward those goals will be measured;
  4. The special education and related services and other services the child will receive;
  5. The placement(s) in which the child will be educated.

In its 1982 Rowley decision, the United States Supreme Court decided that a child would receive FAPE if the child’s IEP was “reasonably calculated to enable the child to achieve educational benefits.”  Since that time, many courts have interpreted the IDEA to require that this requirement is met if a child receives only more than “de minimis” (a little more than none) educational benefit.

In its March 2017 decision in the Endrew F case, the Supreme Court went much further.  The Court stated that, “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.  The IDEA demands more.”  The Court’s decision means that the educational program for each child with a disability must be appropriately ambitious in light of his or her circumstances and every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.

In developing a child’s IEP, the IEP team must consider what services and opportunities the child has been provided in the past, what progress the child has made in the past, and what changes are needed in services and learning opportunities offered to the child.  This requirement must be read in light of the IDEA’s requirement that the IEP must address how the child will be involved and progress in the general education curriculum.

PIC of Delaware will be presenting a Webinar about the Endrew F decision from noon until 1:00 p.m., on Thursday, September 27, 2018.  You may register for this Webinar at the following link:

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