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Supreme Court case highlights importance of providing quality education for students with disabilities, professor says

Friday, January 13, 2017

LAWRENCE — The Supreme Court heard arguments this week in a case that has the potential to strengthen and clarify the rights of more than 6 million children with disabilities in the United States in relation to education. The case may require public schools to offer a special education program that will ensure students can make significant educational progress. Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District centers around the case of a Colorado boy with autism, his family and the boy’s education. The case could have far-reaching influence on both students and the budgets of school districts.

Karrie Shogren, professor of special education and co-director of the Kansas University Center on Developmental Disabilities at the University of Kansas, is available to discuss the case, its ramifications on special education, students with disabilities, providing adequate educational opportunities and related topics with the media.

Federal law has long held that children with disabilities have a right to “free appropriate education.” It has been disputed what exactly that means and how it can be implemented in practice. The case could potentially go as far as requiring schools to reimburse parents for private schooling if it is shown they failed to provide appropriate education and has ramifications on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“This case highlights the importance of public schools providing a high-quality education for all students, including students with disabilities, to enable access to and progress in the general education curriculum,” Shogren said. “Policy, such as the IDEA, asserts the right to equal opportunity in education, and research substantiates the benefits of promoting access to the general education curriculum for student school and post-school outcomes.”

Shogren has done extensive research and writing in special education, self-determination and preparing students with disabilities for higher education and competitive employment after secondary school. She has also been part of efforts to adapt the Supports Intensity Scale for children, published by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to help youths actively participate in the community and engage in activities and life experiences. She has also helped train educators in how best to prepare students for competitive employment in the wake of a previous Supreme Court ruling and written on the benefits of inclusive schools.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

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