Court sends Dou­glas County autis­tic boy’s case for re­view

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Kirk Mitchell Kirk Mitchell: 303-954-1206, kmitchell@den­ver­post.com or @kirk­mitchell or den­ver­post.com/cold­cases

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.

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