The Law Center and its partners submitted an amicus brief on the merits of a case regarding special education and the degree of educational benefit required under Free Appropriate Public Education.
This is the first time since 1982 that the Courts are revisiting this matter. In 1982, the Court declared that each Individualized Education Program must be reasonably calculated to confer an educational benefit, but did not define the appropriate level of educational benefit, which has led the courts of appeals to become divided over the issue. Some circuits require a substantial educational benefit while others merely require a just-above-trivial educational benefit.
Since 1982, expectations for education for students with disabilities have grown. Our brief in support of the Plaintiffs adds arguments focusing on the new educational methodologies that have caused legislative changes. Our brief also focused on the disproportionate way in which lowered expectations for students with disabilities affects children of color.
Resolution of the circuit split is imperative because the scope and nature of disabilities presented by children served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is growing rapidly and major developments in evidence-based interventions and assistive technologies since Rowley can enlarge access of children with disabilities to a meaningful education fostering independent, productive lives. It will also give meaning to the amendments to IDEA that were passed by Congress to emphasize the need of IEPs to prepare children with disabilities for further education, employment and independent lives.