Students With Special Needs And Private Schools: What Does The Public School System Provide?

Posted on: 25 August 2015

If your child has special needs and isn't thriving in a public school setting, or if your child is getting ready to start school for the first time, you might feel a private school would be best. Private schools often have a lower student-teacher ratio, resulting in more one-on-one time between your child and his or her teacher. Private schools also often offer specialized skill-based and advanced placement classes that may not be available at a public school. While some private schools provide their own services for students with special needs, your child may still qualify for help through the public school system as well. Here are the main things to understand about your child's rights for special education services through the public school system if you choose a private school.

Your child has a right to be evaluated. Federal law requires that your local public school system evaluate your child if it is suspected that he or she has a disability through Child Find, which is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This law applies even if your child is enrolled in a private school, and you have a right to request a due process hearing if the school system denies the request for evaluation. 

Your child has a right to equitable services if the district has the funding. If you place your child in a private school, the local public school district may still provide special education services, such as one-on-one speech, physical and occupational therapies. Federal law requires the school district to set aside a portion of its federal funding for students with disabilities to provide services to children enrolled in private schools.

This funding isn't limitless, however, so your child may receive fewer services than he or she would if enrolled in public school. The private school you select may offer its own special education services completely independent of the public school system or federal funding. It is not required by law that private schools provide these services, though, so it's important to inquire about the services the private school offers to ensure your child has the resources they need.

Your child will get a services plan. If your child is deemed to have a disability during his or her evaluation, the public school system will set up a services plan with you. This is similar to an Individualized Education Program (IEP), but it is less comprehensive for private school students. A representative from your child's school must participate in the creation of the plan. The services plan will outline the services that your local district will provide to your child and may include provisions for transportation and therapies.


Reinforcing My Kid's Education

Once my kids started school, I realized that they were going to need a lot of help at home in addition to their homework. I thought about it and decided that it would be smart to pick up some educational materials that might help. Each night, we would go through the things that they learned, and I would teach them my personal take on the material. You wouldn't believe the difference it made. Within about six weeks, both of my kids were on track with their schoolwork and thriving in school. Parental involvement matters, which is why this blog exists.