supremeCourt

In an 8-0 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the de minimis standard as it relates to the educational benefit that students must receive under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA). Instead, the Court reiterated the longstanding Rowley standard in ruling that in order for a school to “meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, a school must offer an “individualized education program” reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”

In the case, entitled Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, Endrew’s parents believed that he was not making any progress, as reflected by his “individualized education program,” which set forth essentially the same goals and objectives each year. The District offered an IEP to the parents for Endrew’s fifth grade year and it was similar to the IEPs that preceded it. The parents did not believe it was appropriate, so they unilaterally placed him in a private school and sought reimbursement from the school district. The lower courts ruled against the parents. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, relying upon the same lower standard as the court below, also ruled in favor of the District, holding that an IEP is adequate as long as it is intended to provide “merely more than de minimis” benefits.

MariannCrincoliAs a child approaches his or her 18th birthday, most parents feel a loss of control as he or she officially enters adulthood. Parents of children with special needs have even more reason to be concerned, because they have the heavy responsibility of determining whether or not their child is ready to graduate high school and transition to the next phase of life.

When evaluating this, it is helpful to know that there are special education laws that will assist you in making informed decisions — one that is best for your child.

Firstly, all children with disabilities in the State of New Jersey have the right to earn a high school diploma, just like their nondisabled peers. The Individuals with Disability Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) sets two paths for children to go about earning their high school diploma. High Schoolers with a disability can take the traditional route by completing the course requirements set forth by their public high school, or by completing the special education program and modified requirements contained in their IEP.

Under federal and state law, children with disabilities have the right to special education and related services through the school year in which they turn 21 or until they graduate, whichever comes first. However, if a child’s 21st birthday falls on July 1st, services will continue through the end of the following school year. This caveat may prove advantageous to a high schooler with a July 1st birthday not quite ready to graduate.

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