In The Politics of Autism, I write about IEPs:
At these meetings, the district has several advantages, starting with Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson Central School District v. Rowley (1982), the first IDEA case to reach the Supreme Court. Amy Rowley was a hearing-impaired girl whose parents wanted her to have a qualified sign-language interpreter in all of her academic classes. The Court said that the district was already supplying her with sufficient supports, and that the law did not require this additional step. Even though the legislation’s sponsors said that its goal was educational equality, the majority found that there was no substantive language in the statute itself regarding the level of education that children with disabilities must get,Previous posts have discussed an important new case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District RE-1 (No. 15-827).
Despite being separated only by the Hudson River, a disabled child who lives in New York City could have a dramatically different life than one who grows up just a few miles to the west in a neighboring New Jersey suburb.
In New York, a student with autism could receive special education services that are just above “trivial.” Yet in New Jersey, courts hold schools to a higher standard.
This disparity is at the heart of the argument Colorado attorney Jack Robinson will make before the U.S. Supreme Court in what’s seen as a potentially pivotal case. Robinson maintains that for 34 years, federal circuit courts have been “in disarray” over the level of special education services a school is required to provide its students under the federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act.
Two circuit courts have ruled that IEPs must provide students a “meaningful educational benefit,” according to the appeal to the Supreme Court; five others have rejected this higher standard, holding that IDEA requires a “just-above-trivial educational benefit.” Three additional circuits appear to agree with the lower standard, and the Ninth Circuit is split, with different panels aligning with opposing standards. The circuit court in Washington, D.C., has not described the level of benefit IDEA requires.