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date: 09 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Two 2017 decisions of the United States Supreme Court could powerfully impact the education of students with disabilities. Frye v. Napoleon Community Schools (2017) addressed whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entitled a student with physical disabilities to use a service dog in school. Endrew v. Douglas County School District (2017) addressed whether a child with autism was denied a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) within the meaning of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Taken together these cases underscore core principles in both statutes. The Endrew decision clarifies that the fundamental entitlement in IDEA of FAPE is a substantive one requiring schools to offer an individualized education plan (IEP) that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” The Frye decision clarifies that the ADA applies to school-age children when discrimination, not FAPE, is at issue. The chapter cautions against over reliance on court decisions alone to improve educational opportunity for students with disabilities and proposes reforms that seek to improve the capacity of schools to provide improved educational opportunity for students with disabilities.

Keywords: special education, disability, Americans with Disabilities Act Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, free and appropriate education, individualized education plan

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