Skip to Content

Supreme Court ruling on IDEA standards directly debunks Gorsuch’s view

NEA President: Ruling further proof ‘Gorsuch is even more out of the mainstream than every single sitting justice’

WASHINGTON - March 22, 2017 -

The U.S. Supreme Court today unanimously reversed the lower court’s decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District and rejected the “merely more than de minimis” standard to students with disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This standard has been pushed by Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, who is currently testifying before a U.S. Senate panel. The unanimous court decried the Gorsuch standard as one that would consign “children with disabilities” to an educational program that “can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all.”

The National Education Association applauds the Supreme Court for unanimously affirming that the IDEA is intended, and must be interpreted, to provide children with disabilities with an individualized education program that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.” NEA urged the court to adopt exactly that approach in its amicus brief in the Endrew case.

The following statement can be attributed to NEA President Lily Eskelsen García:

“Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court is a win for our most vulnerable students and helps ensures that the promises Congress made to them under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will be delivered, no matter where they live. The fact that the Supreme Court was unanimous in repudiating Judge Gorsuch’s standard for an ‘appropriate education’ also shows that Judge Gorsuch's views are out of touch with the needs of disabled students and the educators who serve them.

Ask any parent, teacher, education support professional who has students with special needs and they would tell you these precious students need more resources, support and help — not less. And yet Judge Gorsuch believes that students with disabilities are only owed an education that is barely more than the minimum.

“Today, the Supreme Court repudiated Judge Gorsuch’s IDEA decisions and overwhelmingly rejected his reading of the law. More importantly, the unanimous decision concluded that Judge Gorsuch’s exact language is wrongheaded and antithetical to the IDEA. This is yet another glaring example that reveals Judge Gorsuch is even more out of the mainstream than every single sitting justice who sided with the student in this case.

“Judge Gorsuch needs to explain why he embraced a standard that would effectively eliminate the IDEA’s protections for students. The 3 million members of the National Education Association will continue to speak up for our students and ask the very tough questions because our students deserve to know if their rights will be respected under Judge Gorsuch’s vision for the Supreme Court.”

Follow us on twitter at @NEAmedia

Keep up with the conversation at #STOPGorsuch

# # #

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. Learn more at

CONTACT: Staci Maiers for National Education Association
202-270-5333 cell,