Topic: Special Education
In a footnote of a 9th circuit decision, the Court essentially lowered the FAPE standard to such a degree that it allows Districts to lower educational challenges for disabled students enrolled in K-12 public schools.
In footnote 10 of the J.L v. Mercer Island Case, the Court wrote:
Some confusion exists in this circuit regarding whether the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act requires school districts to provide
disabled students with “educational benefit,” “some educational benefit”
or a “meaningful” educational benefit. See, e.g., Hellgate, 541 F.3d at
1212-13. As we read the Supreme Court’s decision in Rowley, all three
phrases refer to the same standard. School districts must, to “make
such access meaningful,” confer at least “some educational benefit” on
disabled students. See Rowley, 458 U.S. at 192, 200, 102 S.Ct. 3034.
For ease of discussion, we refer to this standard as the “educational
This standard means that meaningful is synonymous with "some". That means that as long as District can show that the IEP eligible student has made "some" progress – then a FAPE has been provided.
What does a free appropriate public education mean? Courts have used the terms "meaningful" and "some" progress as the measure for determining whether a FAPE has been provided under the IDEA.
The 9th circuit has lowered this standard to "some" instead of meaningful.