Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Transition

CPR engages in advocacy to ensure that this country’s promise to students with disabilities – that they receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) as promised by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) – has real meaning.  The question of what FAPE means is currently before the Supreme Court in a case called Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District.  This is the first time the Supreme Court has addressed the meaning of FAPE since its 1982 decision in Board of Education v. Rowley.  This is the first opportunity the court has had to consider the meaning of FAPE in light of amendments to the IDEA in 1997 and 2004, which make clear that Congress intends for schools to have high expectations for students with disabilities.  CPR joined an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to reject a standard that only requires schools to provide a “more than de minimis” educational benefit and instead interpret FAPE to require public schools provide students with disabilities the individualized instruction and related services they need to learn and meet the grade level standards to which other students are held consistent with the most recent IDEA amendments. Read the amicus brief.

It is critical that students with disabilities be prepared for post-school life, whether that be post-secondary education or a job.  But for too many students with disabilities – particularly intellectual and developmental disabilities – school has been a pipeline to segregated sheltered workshops instead of to real employment.  CPR has started tackling this problem through both litigation and policy initiatives.  Read more about CPR’s litigation challenging the school-to-workshop pipeline for students in Oregon.  On the policy front, the Advisory Committee created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) – on which CPR’s Director of Advocacy was an appointed member – included a focus on increasing opportunities for competitive integrated employment for transition-age students.  Read more about the Advisory Committee and its September 2016 report to Congress and the Labor Secretary.  CPR is also concerned about students approaching the age of majority who are forced into guardianship when their families are told that is the only way for them to continue to be engaged in their child’s education.  In response to advocacy by CPR together with other disability organizations, the U.S. Department of Education recently release a guidance on transition that includes a focus on alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision-making.   Go to the legal capacity page for more information.