Court sends Douglas County autistic boy’s case for review
The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered a lower federal court to review the case of a Highlands Ranch couple trying to get the public school system to cover enrollment fees for their autistic son at a private school.
The Wednesday order followed a landmark decision in March by the U.S. Supreme Court in a case dubbed Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District.
On March 22, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned decisions by the 10th Circuit and the U.S. District Court in Denver that mandated a higher standard for how public schools must educate students with disabilities.
The lower courts had determined in the 2008 case that the standard of education for the disabled was “merely” more than de minimis — or bare minimum — based on Congress’ mandate under the Disabilities Education Act for a “free appropriate public education.”
“But the Supreme Court reversed our judgment, holding that in order to meet its substantive obligation under the (Disabilities Education Act), a school must offer an (individualized educational program) reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances,” the 10th Circuit ruled.
“We therefore vacate our prior opinion, and remand to the (district court) for further proceedings consistent with the Supreme Court’s decision,” the order says.
The parents of Endrew, who is now 17, pulled their son out of Summit View Elementary after he began to exhibit severe behavioral issues including banging his head, disrobing and running from school.
They moved their child to Firefly Autism in Denver and asked the district to reimburse their enrollment fees.