Private school placement by parents

When parents enroll their child in a private school, the child may be eligible to receive some special education and related services from the school district that serves the town where the private school is located. The services that the child will receive are described in a “service plan.”

However, “parent placed” children are not automatically entitled to receive any or all of the IEP services that they would have received if they were enrolled in public school. What services these children receive is entirely dependent on the school district’s decisions regarding the way that they will spend the portion of their special education funding that legally must be used for services to children in local private schools.

More information regarding this complicated subject is available in a booklet at the U.S. Department of Education website.

Unilateral private school placement by parents

If parents are enrolling their child in a private school because they believe that the child’s school district has not offered appropriate services for the child, the parents may be entitled to receive full or partial reimbursement for this “unilateral placement,” if they show, through due process procedures, that:

  • The district had not made an appropriate program available to the child in a timely manner; and

  • The private school is able to meet the child’s educational needs.

Further information is available within pages 40-41 of the Procedural Safeguards (“Requirements for Unilateral Placement by Parents of Children in Private Schools”).

Federal Guidelines Regarding Placement

  • Schools must provide education as close to the child’s home as possible and must allow the child to participate in extracurricular and non-academic activities with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.
  • Schools must provide a continuum of placement options (e.g., general education classes, general education classes with minimal support, general education classes with one-to-one assistance, special education classes) and supplementary and related services (e.g., adaptive physical education, speech services).
  • Special classes, separate schooling or otherwise removing the child from the general education environment should occur only when the nature or severity of the child’s disability is such that education in general education classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily, even with the use of supplementary aids and services.

  • If the child is removed from a general education classroom, the school must work to return the child to the general education classroom as soon as possible.


How to Be an Effective Advocate for Your Child

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