U.S. Supreme Court will hear student disability case against Douglas County Schools

Posted at 4:58 PM, Sep 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-29 19:40:25-04

DENVER - A six-year court battle of a Highlands Ranch family against the Douglas County School District will be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court next year.

At the center of a 26-page petition to the U.S. Supreme Court by representatives of the family is one main question.

"That we're doing well enough by our children with disabilities to allow them to invest all of this money for an education and with no greater expectation [than] that basically non-trivial benefit," said Jack Robinson, who’s the legal counsel for the family.

Robinson argues that during the family's time from kindergarten through fourth grade at Summit View Elementary in Highlands Ranch, the family's autistic son, Drew, wasn't taking any steps forward with his Individualized Education Program or IEP.

"All facets of his education -- there's academics, there's functioning, behavioral, social abilities -- there's evidence that all of those factors that make up an education for Drew were regressing. They were deteriorating," said Robinson.

Several lower courts have ruled that the district provided Drew with a more-than-minimal education.

Drew's parents chose to pull him from Douglas County Schools, enrolling him in a private, specialized autism school.

Those in the special education community say SPED parents still have a tough fight every day for their children in our public schools.

“Because inclusion is written into an IEP doesn't mean it's actually happening in the school, and I think that's where the breakdown in the process is coming. So I think there are steps being made towards appropriate IEPs for kids, but I do think we have a long way to go," said Julie Hagy-Hancock, a Special Education Consultant.

Now the case is headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which will determine just where the educational bar should be set for special education students across the country.

Oral arguments are expected in mid-January, with a decision coming a month or two after that.


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