Monday, April 03, 2017

MAKING THE GRADE - Special Education Ruling

"Is this Supreme Court ruling a game changer for special education?" PBS NewsHour 3/28/2017


SUMMARY:  The Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously in favor of providing more educational opportunities for students with disabilities, a move that could set the bar higher for more than six million students.  Lisa Stark of Education Week joins John Yang to discuss the court's ruling and what it means for the classroom.

JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  Now, a Supreme Court ruling that could have a significant impact on special education in schools around the U.S.

John Yang is back with that story for our weekly education segment, Making the Grade.

JOHN YANG (NewsHour):  Amid all of the big news last week, this stunning ruling may have been overlooked.

The court unanimously ruled that schools must give students with disabilities the chance to make meaningful and appropriately ambitious progress.  That could set the bar higher for more than six million students nationwide.

Lisa Stark of our partner Education Week has been covering this story and joins me now.

Lisa, thanks for being here.

LISA STARK, Education Week:  Thanks, John.

JOHN YANG:  What was this case about?

LISA STARK:  Well, the heart of this case is really, what educational benefit do schools need to provide to these students.

It's a case out of Colorado, involved a boy named Drew.  He has autism.  The case was filed when he was 10.  He's now 17.  His parents pulled him out of the fourth grade in the Douglas County Public Schools — that's right outside Denver — because they were concerned.

His behavior was deteriorating.  And they also felt that he wasn't really getting any educational benefit, as required by law.  They put him in a private school for autistic kids, and then they sued the district.

And they said, look, if you're not providing the appropriate education, you need to pay for this private school.

Well, the lower courts all ruled against the family.  And, in fact, the 10th Circuit ruled, the appeals court ruled that school district only had to provide something that was merely more than de minimis, in other words, a very trivial benefit to the child.

The Supreme Court, as you indicated, totally rejected that.  It was a unanimous decision.  The court ruled 8-0 that, in fact, education programs must be appropriately ambitious, in light of each child's circumstance, and they must be challenged.  The kids have to have challenging objectives.

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