Parent knowledge of the definition of FAPE in light of the Endrew vs. Douglas County School Board decision

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The Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship




In 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States redefined Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for students with disabilities (SWD) in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District. The Court’s new standard for FAPE was more demanding than previous rulings. Parents of SWD are expected to participate in the special education program process and a more robust Individualized Education Program (IEP) should be implemented to ensure sufficient student progress. However, it is unknown how much parents know about the Endrew F. Case and what, if any, impact the case had on IEP meetings since the ruling. To determine knowledge and impact of the case, a national survey was distributed through social media and listservs to parents of SWD. Over 100 participants from across the United States (U.S.) responded to the anonymous survey. Demographic data analysis indicated most participants were highly educated, wealthy, white women. Using an exploratory mixed methods approach, the results of the research suggested most parents, specifically upper-class women, have little knowledge about Endrew F., and have not seen changes in their child’s IEP. Respondents indicated a desire for more information about Endrew F., FAPE, and negotiating for their child. Implications for parents of SWD, advocacy organizations, and schools are discussed along with implications of the unique demographics of the participants.


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