Part 2: Other School Choices
There are a number of choices about where a child goes to school.
There are several choices other than traditional public school.
A charter school is a public school. It is tax supported, and it must follow the IDEA. Student selection in a charter school may depend on the focus of the school. For example:
A charter school that focuses on advanced academics will select students who can be successful in that program.
- A charter school that focuses on vocational education will select students who want to learn to do a specific job the school teaches.
- In each case, the charter school must accommodate any student with disabilities who can do the program.
LEA Placement in Private Schools
Sometimes a child’s needs are so great, or so unusual, the LEA cannot meet them. Then the IEP team may decide to send the child to a private school that specializes in that child’s needs. The school must meet DPI requirements for private schools.
The IDEA is followed in providing special education and related services for the child. The IEP and all other parts of the special education process are followed.
The LEA pays for the private school and any related expenses such as transportation from the child’s home to and from the private school. The LEA is responsible for making sure the child’s IEP is being carried out correctly.
Parent Placement in Private School
Parents may decide that a private school will meet their child’s needs best. A private school is a school that is not tax supported. Parents pay tuition for their child to attend a private school. A private school can choose the students who attend the school. Private schools do not have to follow IDEA.
Parents have a right to choose to send their child to a private school. If parents choose to send their child to a private school, there may be no special education services from the district or the services may be limited. The district must offer FAPE in the public school, but the child does not have an individual right to special education or related services in a private school. In consultation with representatives of private schools and parents of private school children, the district where the private school is located decides what services it will provide, which children will be served, and how and where they will be served. The district must spend a part of its federal special education money on this group of children. Each private school child being served by a district also has a Services Plan that lists any services the district will provide (transportation, speech, etc.). See DPI Bulletin #06.03 for more information.
What If Parents Disagree?
If parents disagree with the child’s Services Plan, they cannot use a due process hearing or mediation to solve the problem. If parents disagree with the child’s evaluation or eligibility decision, they can request mediation or a due process hearing to solve the problem. If parents believe the district did not follow the laws relating to private school children, they may file a written IDEA complaint with DPI. Parents can also use the informal methods of solving problems described in Part Three: Problem Solving.
District Pays For Private School If FAPE Not Provided
If a child was enrolled in special education in the district, and if parents decide to send the child to a private school because they think the district did not provide FAPE, a hearing officer or a court can look at the situation and may require the district to pay for the child to go to the private school. In order to win such a case, in most cases, parents must notify the school district in advance of their decision before they remove their child from public school. Parents should do so in writing, with an explanation of why they believe the public school did not provide FAPE to their child.
Homebound schooling is an option for a child with a disability who cannot go to school because of medical problems. For example, a child needing a long recovery time after surgery or a child who is very weak due to chronic illness may receive homebound schooling. Homebound schooling is not intended as a way to simply keep children with behavior problems out of school.
Home-based or Home Schooling
Home-based schooling, or home schooling, is a parent choice to educate the child at home. If the district gets a written referral for a home-schooled child with a suspected disability, they must accept the referral and evaluate the child. If the child is found to be a child with a disability, the school must make free appropriate public education available in the public school.
If parents decide to keep the child in home-based schooling, the district has no responsibility for providing any education services. However, a school district must allow a child in a private school or in a home-based education program to take up to two high school courses each semester if:
- the child is a resident of the district;
- the child meets the standards for high school; and
- the school board decides there is enough space in the classroom.
The school district is required to identify children with disabilities attending private schools in the district, including religious schools. So, any child suspected of having a disability could be referred to the school district for evaluation. The school district will gather an IEP team including staff from the public and private schools, parents, and others. The district also has an obligation to find other children with disabilities who live in the district.