John Aguilar at The Denver Post:
A federal judge on Monday ruled that the Douglas County School District did not provide an adequate education to a student who has autism and must reimburse his family for the cost of sending him to a private school for students with disabilities.
The ruling from U.S. District Judge Lewis Babcock represents the latest, and possibly final, chapter in a long-running legal battle between the family of a student known in court records as Endrew F. and the 68,000-student school district that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a unanimous ruling last year, the high court stated that federal law requires public schools to offer special education programs that meet a higher standard than simply the bare minimum. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the March 2017 opinion that federal law requires an educational program be “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.”
The high court didn’t say whether Douglas County had reached that bar with the individualized educational program it offered Endrew and remanded the case back to the district court to make that determination.
Babcock reasoned that once the Supreme Court elevated the previous standard of a “de minimis” — or minimum — approach to special needs education to a higher standard of “markedly more demanding,” Douglas County’s efforts to provide Endrew with a special needs curriculum had been insufficient. He said the district is on the hook for the student’s private tuition.