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Professor Arlene Kanter Comments on SCOTUS Decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District

Posted on Wednesday 3/22/2017
Arlene Kanter

Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence Arlene Kanter has written the following comments on the Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.

“The decision is unanimous. It confirms that the Rowley standard, as defined as “merely more than de minimis” is not the right standard.  To meet its substantive obligation under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school must now offer an Individual Education Program (IEP) reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. 

To me, Footnote #2 is key. It states the following: “This guidance should not be interpreted as an inflexible rule. We declined to hold in Rowley, and do not hold today, that “every handicapped child who is advancing from grade to grade . . . is automatically receiving a [FAPE].” Board of Ed. of Hendrick Hudson Central School Dist., Westchester Cty. v. Rowley, 458 U. S. 176, 203, n. 25 (1982).  In other words, school districts (and lower courts) are now on notice that it is not simply pre-Endrew business as usual. For that reason, I believe the decision is a step forward – not a huge step, but one that moves us forward, nonetheless. “

Read the ruling[PDF].

Professor Kanter, College of Law students and staff, and Syracuse University faculty and staff contributed to an amicus brief filed in the case.