68 Children’s Legal Rights Journal [Vol. 38: 1 2018]
make further accommodations, it must show all of the steps it has gone through before being
relieved of its duty. This also ensures more predictability in IDEA lawsuits for both the parents
and the school district. Instead of ambiguous, non-categorical words used to measure academic
achievement, the reasonableness standard is based on balancing what has already been done with
what resources are still available. This emphasis on resources will also thrust constituents to put
pressure on Congress to actually fund schools to a level that allows them to provide an appropriate
education to all students. After all, a well-educated society is always a better society.
B. Role of the Federal Government
As discussed above, courts have noted over the years that Congress has repeatedly left the
level of educational benefit required ambiguous.219 It is the role of Congress to clearly define a
statute so that the appropriate executive branch may enforce it.220 Yet, time and time again, it has
failed to do so with the IDEA,221 putting the courts in a quasi-legislative role and left to guess what
Congress intended.222 The Court in Rowley actually cautioned that courts “lack the specialized
knowledge and experience necessary to resolve persistent and difficult questions of educational
policy.”223 During oral argument for Endrew, Justice Breyer further reiterated the cautionary
advice given by the Court in Rowley when he discussed the lack of expertise the justices had
regarding education policy.224 Therefore, because the courts lack the expertise to devise a new
legal standard on the education of individuals with disabilities, this problem should be fixed by
When it comes to the education of our children, problems often arise due to a lack of
resources, not ambiguities in interpretation. Even if Congress were to solve the ambiguities in the
language it uses in the IDEA, courts would still not be able to provide an actual remedy if the
school district lacked the resources needed to make an accommodation. As discussed above, the
Federal Government has a major role to play in helping state and local governments implement
regulations concerning the education of our nation’s children.
Besides fixing the ambiguities discussed above, the Federal Government can help by
creating grants that allow state and local governments the flexibility in funding that is needed from
year to year. These grants could be used to fill shortfalls in local and state education budgets on a
yearly basis. Making the grants renewable on a yearly basis allows the Federal Government to
move its resources quickly to accommodate yearly changes in the number of students with
disabilities in specific locations. It should be noted that grant funding does exist for special needs
education. However, the reauthorization of ESSA did not make changes to the flexibility of how
grants for special education were allocated like it did for grants that go to schools which serve low
income students; schools near Native American reservations or near military bases; and schools
219 See Rowley, 458 U.S. at 176; See also Endrew F., 798 F.3d at 1339.
220 See generally U.S. CONST. art. 1, § 1, art. 2, § 2.
221 Kowal, supra note 66, at 825.
222 See id. at 839.
223 Rowley, 458 U.S. at 208.
224 Transcript, supra note 5, at 14 (Bryer, J. stating, “besides having nine people who don’t know . . . that much about
it, creating a new standard out of legal materials which are at a distance from the people, the children and the parents
who need help.”).