New Q & A! U.S. Department of Education Clarifies FAPE after Endrew Decision

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December 2017: Department Issues New Q&A on Free Appropriate Public Education following Supreme Court Decision.

The U.S. Department of Education released a question-and-answer document supporting the unanimous March 2017 U.S. Supreme Court opinion on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)-related case Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District clarifying the scope of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

Q&A #8: “The Supreme Court decisively rejected the ‘merely more than de minimis’ standard used by the Tenth and other Circuits; therefore that standard is no longer considered good law.

The Court explained, ‘[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…The IDEA demands more.’

Now, as a result of Endrew F., each child’s educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his or her circumstances, and every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.”

The Supreme Court sent a strong and unanimous message: all children must be given an opportunity to make real progress in their learning environment—they cannot simply be passed along from year to year without meaningful improvement, said U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

For too long, too many students offered IEPs were denied that chance. I firmly believe all children, especially those with disabilities, must be provided the support needed to empower them to grow and achieve ambitious goals.

The Department issued the Q&A document to provide parents, educators and other stakeholders information on the issues addressed in Endrew F. and the impact of the Court’s decision.

The Q&A:

  • explains the case
  • provides a summary of the Court’s final decision and prior case law addressing the FAPE standard
  • explains how FAPE is currently defined
  • clarifies the standard for determining FAPE
  • addresses implementation and how this ruling can support children with disabilities

You can view the Q&A document here: https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/qa-endrewcase-12-07-2017.pdf

Have Questions or Comments?

Because the decision in Endrew F. clarified the scope of the IDEA’s FAPE requirements, the Department’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) is interested in receiving comments from families, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders to assist us in identifying implementation questions and best practices.

If you are interested in commenting on this document or have additional questions, please send them to OSERS by email at EndrewF@ed.gov

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