Now that we have a new Supreme Court Justice, it is time to worry about his opinion regarding disabled children and their rights to a free and appropriate education under the IDEA. You may recall that during Gorsuch's congressional hearings, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision in the Luke P. case, in which he held that a school district complies with the law to educate disabled children, so long as they provide educational benefits that “must merely be ‘more than de minimis.’” “De minimis” is a Latin phrase meaning “so minor as to merit disregard, ” and when this phrase is used in the law it mean the lowest possible standard. In his decision, Gorsuch essentially concluded that school districts comply with their obligation to educate disabled students so long as they give disabled students little more than nothing. Thank goodness the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected Gorsuch’s approach. Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the standard for educating children with disabilities under the IDEA “is markedly more demanding than the de minimis test applied by the Tenth Circuit.” Roberts also stated that Gorsuch’s approach would effectively strip disabled students of an appropriate education. The IDEA was designed to help educators teach disabled students on an individual basis and help them learn the skills they need to become contributing members to society. It remains to be seen whether or not Grosuch will respect the disabled community in his future decisions.
DIANNA CANNON, J.D.