The Importance of Endrew F. v Douglas

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The Importance of Endrew F. v Douglas

While not widely talked about across the country, numerous legal advisors and lawyers in the United States are closely following the case of Endrew F. v Douglas. In the beginning of January 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case and is currently reviewing information. The final verdict is expected in the summer of 2017. The wonder of this case is that it has the ability to affect nearly all special education children around the country at some point in their lives. At the heart of this case is the matter of what a free appropriate public education is.

Legal Implications of Federal Court Rulings

For years, the U.S. government guaranteed a free public education to all children, including to special needs children. Original Supreme Court rulings on special education came in 1975 with the Individuals with Disabilities Act and later in 1982 with the Board of Education v Rowley. With IDEA came the term “free appropriate public education,” which was to be guaranteed to all special needs children. The 1982 case attempted to clarify this terminology. With the expected 2017 ruling, further clarification of free and appropriate is expected.

Sadly, in the Rowley case, justices did not fully expand on the type or extent of public education to be received. In fact, school districts do not have to go above and beyond in providing an education to these children. The case stated that school districts did not need to “guarantee any particular level of education.”

Ensuring the Best Education for Children with Special Needs

In the current case, Endrew’s parents sent their child to a private school when they felt that he was not receiving an appropriate education for his autistic needs in public school. However, because the school district said that they were providing some applicable education, they denied any financial reimbursement for the private schooling. Lawyers for the family are arguing for a national measurable standard to be instituted in the public school setting to ensure that special needs children do indeed receive an appropriate education.

Attorneys at Newman Aaronson Vanaman fight for special education children’s rights on a daily basis. They are up-to-date with all applicable laws and are closely watching this case. Parents with any concerns for their special needs students’ education can contact our office for legal help. We provide help in the office, the school district and the courtroom with IEPs, conservatorships, trusts and much more.
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