I'm hoping, if you've been in this special education world for a while, that you've followed the trajectory of one of the most important court cases in years:
Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District
There are LOTS of things that I go round and round about with parents, teachers, coworkers and peers. But one, more than any other, has been this:
What does it mean when the law says a child with a disability is entitled to a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE)?
For me as an advocate, what I think is "appropriate" tends to be a much higher bar than what the school team thinks is "appropriate." And for years there was never really an answer to this discrepancy. Until recently.
The Endrew F. case finally gives us a benchmark for how to define "appropriateness" under the law.
Here's the summary (taken from the U.S. Dept. of Education-- full F.A.Q. document here):
"The Court held that to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances. In clarifying the standard, the Court rejected the “merely more than de minimis” (i.e. more than trivial) standard applied by the Tenth Circuit. In determining the scope of FAPE, the Court reinforced the requirement that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives." (Emphasis mine.)
YES! This is a WIN for kids.
However, I recognize that this statement above is pure legalese. And how does one put this all into practice, exactly?
Y'all know I'm not about reinventing the wheel if someone else has done a fantastic job before me, and in this case, Understood.org has knocked it out of the park.
Their Endrew F. Advocacy Toolkit provides two crucial resources to help you get a better IEP for your child in light of this monumental court case:
> First, the toolkit includes a PDF download of "Talking points" which identifies 8 themes that emerge from the court decision and provides a succinct reference and an explanation for each one.
> Second, the toolkit includes a worksheet for you to take to your next IEP meeting with sample language (i.e. a "suggested script") for how to bring up each talking point.
This is GOOD STUFF. Can you tell I feel passionate about it?
Do me a favor and check out this resource. The only benefit I'll get is knowing that your child is on his or her way to having more appropriate educational services...and that is more than enough for me!
Have questions about how to use this resource or want to share your thoughts? Visit us on our Facebook page to start chatting!