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US Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Colorado Student With Disabilities

Historic US Supreme Court ruling yesterday – court rules in favor of a Douglas County, Colorado student with disabilities.

Here’s how the ruling reads:  “Held: 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.”

According to the Denver Post,

” A unanimous Supreme Court on Wednesday bolstered the rights of millions of learning-disabled students in a ruling that requires public schools to offer special education programs that meet higher standards. The court struck down a lower standard endorsed by President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court.

Chief Justice John Roberts said that it is not enough for school districts to get by with minimal instruction for special needs children. The school programs must be designed to let students make progress in light of their disabilities.”

The Washington Post puts it this way:

“The Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously raised the bar for the educational benefits owed to millions of children with disabilities in one of the most significant special-education cases­ to reach the high court in dec­ades.

The opinion rejected a lower standard set by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit and used in a subsequent case by President Trump’s nominee to the high court, Neil Gorsuch, during his tenure on the appeals court. The high court’s ruling quickly became the focus of questions Wednesday at Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing.

In its unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court said that a child’s “educational program must be appropriately ambitious in light of his circumstances” and that “every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives” even if the child is not fully integrated into regular classrooms.”

Click here for the link to the complete copy of the Supreme Court Decision

My immediate take on this is that it has huge implications for Twice Exceptional students who are gifted and also have disabilities. For clarification, neither giftedness nor high sensitivity are disabilities. Sensory processing deficits can be, ADD and ADHD and other learning differences may be considered disabilities, if they exist to such an extent that the learning difference interferes with learning in a typical school environment. That’s where assessment comes in, including a risk/benefit discussion about the pros and cons of “diagnosis” and all that goes with it.

In addition, it will be some time before the impact of this decision makes its way to schools, but keep watching for how this changes both policy and practice in local schools.

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment box below –

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