CHADD Joins Amicus Brief Filed with Supreme Court in Landmark Case Regarding Students with Disabilities

LANHAM, Md.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–What defines a free and appropriate public school education for students
with disabilities? This monumental question is currently being
considered by the Supreme Court of the United States following oral
arguments on January 11, 2017 in the case of Endrew F. v. Douglas County
School District. At issue is the legal standard to which public schools
should be held in providing a meaningful education for the country’s
more than six million students with disabilities. CHADD, the leading
resource on attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), has signed
on to an amicus brief—or “friend of the court” brief—developed by the
Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates (COPAA), arguing that children
affected by disabilities are entitled to more than a minimum education
under the law.

“This is the most important case addressing special education in more
than 30 years,” says Matt Cohen, JD, a practicing attorney and an active
member of CHADD’s Public Policy Committee, which advocates on behalf of
children and adults with ADHD. “It concerns what is meant by the word
‘appropriate.’ That single word is the most significant word in special
education, as it defines what level of services schools are expected to
provide for students with disabilities, including ADHD.”

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), enacted in 1975,
is a federal law that requires schools to serve the educational needs of
students with disabilities. Its goal is to provide children with
disabilities the same opportunity for education as students who do not
have disabilities. The IDEA requires schools to create an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) for eligible students, against which progress is
measured on an ongoing basis.

The parents of Endrew (Drew) F.—a student with autism and ADHD—removed
their son from public school in Colorado when he was not making
acceptable progress toward his educational goals. They were unsuccessful
in convincing the school to provide more than the minimum services that
appear to be required by law. Once enrolled in private school, Drew made
substantial strides. Drew’s parents sued his public school, requesting
tuition reimbursement for private schooling, but lost that battle in the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Supreme Court accepted
Drew’s parents’ challenge to that decision.

“Essentially, the matter at hand involves the interpretation of the IDEA
and the standard to which schools should be held accountable,” says
Cohen. “There are different interpretations of the law and varying
standards, depending on where you live. The way some schools have
interpreted the standard is to do the bare minimum, which is far less
than any of us would want for our children. The Supreme Court is being
asked to decide if the lower standard is sufficient, or if the standard
needs to be raised to ensure that public school education provides
meaningful benefit for students with disabilities. It is CHADD’s
position that the minimum standard is profoundly inadequate and legally

Regardless of the outcome of the case, students with disabilities,
including those with ADHD, are also entitled to protection in school
under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the federal civil
rights statute that says schools cannot discriminate against children
with disabilities. According to this statute, schools that receive
federal dollars must provide eligible children who have disabilities
with an equal opportunity to participate in all academic and
non-academic services the school offers.

It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will make a decision regarding
Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District by year end, possibly within
the next few months.

The complete amicus brief can be found at

About ADHD

ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by a persistent
pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity that
interferes with daily functioning and life’s achievements. The U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that the 8% of
children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD. These children have
higher rates of retention in grade level, high school dropout, and
substance abuse than their peers. ADHD is very manageable using an
individualized, multimodal treatment approach that can include
behavioral interventions; parent and patient training, educational
support, and medication. Within the school system, ADHD is managed by
classroom strategies and interventions.


CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity
Disorder) is the leading resource on attention-deficit/hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD), providing support, training, education and advocacy for
the 17 million children and adults in the United States living with
ADHD, their families, educators and healthcare professionals. As home to
the National Resource Center on ADHD, funded by the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention, CHADD is the most trusted source of
reliable, science-based information regarding current medical research
and ADHD management. To learn more, visit
or call 310.306.7070.


Barbara Link, 610-668-2855