The parents of special needs children know that their children deserve specified and necessary services, but that is not always so easy to find. In our state and throughout the U.S. though, federal law actually mandates that public schools to offer appropriate services to special needs children. Unfortunately, in practice, this is not always so easy and sometimes, even what the public school provides is simply inadequate. And, this is why this week’s blog post is an FAQ.
Does my local public school need to provide services?
In a word, yes, according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which requires special education, early intervention and related special needs services. The legal term is free appropriate public education, and if a school or district does not offer FAPE, parents can actually receive tuition reimbursement for institutions that do provide those appropriate services to special needs children.
Does this mean that my child automatically gets a free private school education?
Well, as is so often the case with legal questions, the answer is, it depends. This is because special needs children are only entitled to “appropriate” educational services, which does not mean the best available services. So, just because there is a better special needs education available at a private institution does not mean that a parent can opt for the “better” one over the publicly available option. The key is whether or not the publicly available option is appropriate.
But, what happens if I do not believe the public option is appropriate?
This is where parents can use the due process hearing process, which is mandated by the IDEA. This is where parents can argue that the public option is not appropriate. The process is essentially the same as courtroom hearing, but it is covered by administrative law.
What can help prove the public options is not free appropriate public education?
For those parents that want tuition reimbursement through the Education Law system, they need to prove that the public school failed to provide free appropriate public education. And, this is where Cedarhurst, New York, residents need to call an attorney.