The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is a federal law that protects all children, regardless of their needs, and requires they receive an equal and free education tailored to them. If your home district cannot accommodate your child’s unique needs, you may be entitled to a nonpublic or private school.
Here is a look at state-approved vs. non-state approved schools and your child’s rights:
State Approved Schools
State-approved private schools are private schools that are approved to be referred children that your public district can’t properly accommodate. Schools that qualify as “approved” through State Boards of Education will receive funding from the state for the child to attend as part of the IDEA law to give children access to free education.
If it is found that a public school in the child’s district does not have adequate staff or teaching capabilities for their needs, parents will be recommended to select from a list of nonpublic, approved schools. They will typically be notified of this by the IEP team or their child’s case manager. After a series of applications and interviews to determine appropriateness, a program can be selected for your child.
Non-State Approved Schools
When it comes to nonpublic, non-approved schools, these institutions operate independently and do not have the same relationship with the state or your home district. As such, they are not qualified for the same funding. You may still be entitled to tuition reimbursement or even prospective payment for these non-approved schools from your home district. But, this may require some pressing and perhaps even litigation against your home district. If you, as a parent, have exhausted all state-approved options, you may be entitled to a non-approved school. It’s important that you know your rights. There are resources and advocates who can help guide you through the process.
What to Do
You may know that your child’s learning needs cannot be met by any institution on the approved school list because, for example, the teaching methods they use are not scientifically proven to achieve the desired results. At this point, you’ll have to explore non-approved options and consider litigation. There are attorneys who dedicate their practices to helping families get their children in nonpublic schools.
Bottom line: Don’t settle for the approved, nonpublic school you’re being recommended for without knowing that it is, in fact, the appropriate option for your child. Need help? Having trouble choosing the school that fits your child’s needs? Want to learn more about your options? All Children Learn takes the guesswork out of finding the appropriate school, advocate, and provider for your child