On March 22, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the most significant special-education case in 35 years. In Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, the justices unanimously ruled that, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), public school students with disabilities are entitled to greater benefits than some lower courts had determined.
Within the foxholes of New Jersey’s charter school wars, the target de jour is special education, specifically the accusation by school-choice opponents that alternative public schools intentionally discriminate against children with special needs. In posh Princeton, the charter school there just received approval to expand its enrollment by 76 students, and a primary line of attack is that Princeton Charter School enrolls far fewer students with disabilities.
State Board of Education President Michael Kirst called a report urging California officials to dismantle the current special education funding system “provocative and bold.” After listening to two hours of the public’s reactions at a hearing in Redwood City last week, Kirst could add the phrase “and feared.”
Parents of children with disabilities and special education teachers and administrators said they oppose the recommendation, which would eliminate direct funding of regional agencies that currently allocate special education money, coordinate services and monitor complaints. Under the proposal, the money would be sent directly to school districts to administer, as recommended in a report by the Public Policy Institute of California.
Parents fear districts wouldn’t spend sufficiently on services for their children with disabilities.
The US Supreme Court today issued a major unanimous decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District which will have far-reaching implications for the nearly 7 million students with disabilities in the United States. The Court overturned a lower court ruling that sided in favor of school district. The federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees a “free appropriate public education” to all students with disabilities. Today’s opinion held that “appropriate” goes further than what the lower courts had held.
Click here to read the ruling.
The Court’s opinion, signed by Chief Justice John Roberts, ruled that a special needs student’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances, just as advancement from grade to grade is appropriately ambitious for most children in the regular classroom. The goals may differ, but every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.”
“It cannot be right that the IDEA generally contemplates grade-level advancement for children with disabilities who are fully integrated in the regular classroom, but is satisfied with barely more than de minimis progress for children who are not.”
“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,” Roberts said. “For children with disabilities, receiving instruction that aims so low would be tantamount to sitting idly awaiting the time when they were old enough to drop out.”
From NPR: By now, we’ve all heard about how body cameras could prevent more police violence, or at least catch it in the act. But what about cameras to protect special-needs kids from their own teachers — and the teachers themselves from false accusations?
It’ll be a reality soon in Texas. The Lone Star State passed a law in June that made it the first in the nation to make it mandatory for schools — if asked to do so — to videotape interactions between teachers and their special-needs students.
The law, which takes effect at the start of the next school year, applies to all of the state’s public schools and charters, and to any self-contained classroom in which at least half the students receive special-ed services for at least half the day. (Read more)