The way twice-exceptional students (2e) receive their education and support services can be affected by all three branches of our government — judicial, executive (with its departments), and legislative. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004, the most recent version) is national legislation that can deeply affect how twice-exceptional children are educated and, consequently, whether they thrive and reach their potential. IDEA is realized by the language in the legislation itself; by how the executive branch administers the law; and by how courts interpret the law and adjudicate conflicts in its application. However, the decisions and actions from the three branches of government can also be influenced by those of us who advocate for twice-exceptional students.
The Courts and the Executive Branch
IDEA has been reshaped within the last year by a U.S. Supreme Court decision. When the Supreme Court ruled on the Endrew F case in March of 2017, the new standard for IDEA became that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) formulated under IDEA must have more than a minimal impact and must impart “progress appropriate in the light of the child’s circumstance,” including exposure to “challenging objectives.”
The case was brought by the parents of Endrew F, a boy on the autism spectrum who had not been making progress under his public school IEP. The parents moved their son to a private school and sought reimbursement from the public school district. The district’s position was that Endrew had made “some” academic progress, which was enough. Their position was supported in a due process hearing, a district court decision, and an appellate court decision. The Supreme Court, however, ruled th...
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