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Supreme Court To Decide: What Level Of Education Do Public Schools Legally Owe To Students With Disabilities?

The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments Wednesday in a dispute over the level of education that public schools must provide to millions of children with disabilities, a case that advocates describe as the most significant special-education issue to reach the high court in three decades.

The question is whether public schools owe disabled children “some” educational benefit — which courts have determined to mean just-above-trivial progress — or whether students legally deserve something more: a substantial, “meaningful” benefit.

Lower courts are divided on the question, meaning that disabled children in some states can expect more from their schools than children in other states. Now the Supreme Court will have an opportunity to decide whether a uniform standard should apply nationally.