Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District

SCOTUS will hear arguments in DCSD’s disability case.

By Tara Higgins and Henley Holland

Late last year, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear the case of Joe F. (whose last name has not been released), who claims that his son Endrew did not receive proper care relating to his autistic disability while attending Summit View Elementary School in Highlands Ranch back in 2010.

When the family learned of their son’s erratic behavior at school, they felt the public school system had failed them. This led to their decision to enroll Endrew in a Denver school that specializes in helping autistic children to progress academically. At Firefly Autism, Endrew proved to be much more successful. His parents believe DCSD should be held responsible for their failure to accommodate Endrew’s needs, and are suing the district for the pricey tuition at Firefly.

After facing several blows from an administrative law judge, a federal judge, and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, all which supported Douglas County and the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) under fire, Endrew’s parents took their case to the highest court in the land.

The case has received much publicity for its potential to impact school districts across the country. Conflicting rules in previous years regarding IDEA and its implementation point to a lack of federal precedent, which the case aims to resolve.

“I think it will open eyes to thinking more about programs and even more funding for the future for special needs children,” SSN teacher Julie Hensley said. “I think anytime a situation comes to light where it goes before a group of people to sit and look at is only going to bring about positive change for a school district,” she said.

Should the Court rule in favor of Endrew and his family, the repercussions for Douglas County School District would be significant. If it comes to light that other families of children with disabilities have also been impacted by the issue, DCSD will face a need for major improvements.

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