Supreme Court Decision
Announced on March 22, 2017

Policy Summary

The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that schools must raise the bar on educational standards for disabled students. They rejected past rulings stating that the Individuals with Disabilities Act entitling disabled students to a free appropriate public education that is tailored to their needs, which simply meant that schools were only required to show some annual gains, or “more than de minimis” (more than the minimum). As a result of the current case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District, schools must now provide their disabled students with the opportunity to make “appropriately ambitious progress.” LEARN MORE


Prior to this landmark Supreme Court ruling, in 2008 a similar case was ruled upon by none other than Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch who applied the bare minimum standard. Ironically, Gorsuch was testifying before the senate judiciary committee at the time the ruling was announced. He was subsequently questioned about the issue. Gorsuch noted that within the 2008 case he was simply following the precedent set by past appeals court rulings. Chief Justice Roberts, on the other hand, wrote in his opinion, “When all is said and done, a student offered an educational program providing “merely more than de minimis” progress from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.” LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources

  • RespectAbility – An organization with a mission is to fight for more opportunities for and reject the stigmas associated with people with mental disabilities.
  • Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law – The Bazelon Center’s mission is to protect the rights of both children and adults with mental disabilities.
  • Understood – A partnership built out of 15 non-profit organizations, Understood is a resource for the millions of parents whose children ages 3-20, are struggling with learning and attention issues.

This brief was compiled by Cindy Stansbury. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief please contact,



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