Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Case Brief

Facts of the case

Endrew F. is an autistic fifth grade student who was placed in private school because his parents believed his public school education was inadequate. Endrew was placed in Firefly Autism House and his parents sued for reimbursement of Endrew’s private school tuition and related expenses pursuant to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). IDEA provides that if a free public school cannot meet the educational needs of a disabled student, the student’s parents may enroll their child in a private school and seek reimbursement for tuition and related expenses.This case first went to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for review. The ALJ rejected Endrew’s parent’s request for reimbursement concluding that Endrew’s public school had provided him with “free appropriate public education” (FAPE) as required by the IDEA. The district court affirmed the ALJ’s ruling and held that Endrew’s parents failed to meet their burden to prove that Endrew was not provided with FAPE. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed.


The United States Supreme Court held that the nature of the IEP process ensures that parents and school representatives will fully air their respective opinions on the degree of progress a child’s IEP should pursue thus, by the time any dispute reaches court, school authorities will have had the chance to bring their expertise and judgment to bear on areas of disagreement. When a child is fully integrated in the regular classroom, providing a FAPE that meets the unique needs of a child with a disability typically means providing a level of instruction reasonably calculated to permit advancement through the general curriculum. Concluding that a school district, in order to meet its substantive obligation under the IDEA, a school must offer an IEP reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances, the court vacated the judgment of the court and remanded for further proceedings.

  • Advocates: Jeffrey L. Fisher for the petitioner Irving L. Gornstein Counselor to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States, as amicus curiae Neal Kumar Katyal for the respondents
  • Petitioner: Endrew F.
  • Respondent: Douglas County School District RE-1
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: Firefly Autism House
Citation: 580 US _ (2017)
Granted: Sep 29, 2016
Argued: Jan 11, 2017
Decided: Mar 22, 2017
Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District Case Brief