ED Issues Q and A on Free Appropriate Public Education

December 12, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) issued a new Questions and Answers (Q&A) resource on free appropriate public education (FAPE) requirements [PDF]. The Q&A supports the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, which clarified the scope of FAPE under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The document provides parents, educators, and other stakeholders with information on the issues addressed in the case and the impact of the Court’s decision on the implementation of IDEA.

Particularly relevant to ASHA members working in schools are the following statements addressed in the document:

  • The Court decision emphasized the individualized decision-making required in the individualized education program (IEP) process and the need to ensure that every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives.
  • The individualized decision-making required in the IEP process "require careful consideration of the child's present levels of achievement, disability, and potential for growth."
  • IEP teams must implement policies, procedures, and practices relating to:
    1. identifying present levels of academic achievement and functional performance;
    2. the setting of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals; and
    3. how a child's progress toward meeting annual goals will be measured and reported, so that the Endrew F. standard is met for each individual child with a disability.

Background

On March 22, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Tenth Circuit Court's decision that Endrew, F., a child with autism, was only entitled to an educational program that was calculated to provide "merely more than de minimis" educational benefit. In rejecting the Tenth Circuit’s reasoning, the Supreme Court determined that, "[t]o meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP that is reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child's circumstances." The Court additionally emphasized the requirement that, "every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives."

Questions?

Please contact Catherine D. Clarke, ASHA's director of education and regulatory advocacy, at cclarke@asha.org.


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