Christopher, diagnosed at six years old with Asperger's Syndrome, is a child with a disability. Upon his diagnosis, Christopher's public school developed his Individualized Education Program (IEP) to serve Christopher's educational needs; however, his needs went unmet. Throughout Christopher's four years at his public school, his parents repeatedly met with school officials about the appropriateness of services being offered to Christopher as his IEP did not account for the individualized class support Christopher required. Despite consistent and dedicated efforts by his parents, school officials continually informed them there was nothing more the school or teachers could do. Unwilling to risk their son's educational future and unsure they would be able to dis-prove the vague "meaningful educational benefit" substantive standard of review for an IEP, Christopher's parents assumed the costs of placing their child in a private school specializing in educating children with those disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA or the Act) identifies thirteen categories of disabilities that qualify children for its educational protections. The Act was devised to provide children with qualifying disabilities a "free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. Problematic, however, is IDEA's failure to define the term "appropriate." Therefore, the United States Supreme Court in Board of Education v. Rowley defined "appropriate" by stating schools have met this substantive requirement if an IEP confers "some educational benefit." This definition, "conferring an educational benefit," has purposely been left very broad as the courts have avoided establishing more stringent guidelines regarding the substantive aspect of an IEP.
Note, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act: Changing What Constitutes an Appropriate Education, 20 J.L. & Health 139 (2006-2007)