Ensuring your child grows up happy, healthy and educated is the goal of every parent. Sometimes this goal becomes more complicated for the parents of a special needs child. Their educational needs can differ from those of other children, requiring parents to learn new terms and ideas as they go through the process of placing their child in the most appropriate school.
Federal educational mandate
All states, including New York, are required to provide public education to every child, at no cost to the parents. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act ensures that children with disabilities are not exempted from this requirement. And while New York’s public school system can accommodate the needs of many disabled children, there are times when public schools will prove inadequate. When a child has no option but to attend a private school, how is that education paid for?
When a school district determines that a private school is necessary to attend to the needs of a particular child, their first option is to place the child in one of a number of pre-approved schools. But sometimes, even the list of pre-approved schools is insufficient and unable to accommodate the needs of a particular child. If this is the case, the parent must locate an appropriate private school that will serve the child’s needs.
If the parent does so, and places the child in the school, they can pay the tuition for the school up front and seek reimbursement from the school district. This reimbursement is known as Carter funding. The parent must apply for Carter funding – a hearing will be held, at which the parent must prove that the school district failed to provide the child with free and appropriate education, as required by Section 504.
When children must attend a non-approved school, not every parent will be able to pay the necessary tuition up front. This is where Connors funding comes in. Here, the parent discusses the situation with the school and informs them that they will request a hearing with the school district for funding. With that assurance, the school accepts the child without tuition being paid in advance. Connors funding differs from Carter funding in that it is not a reimbursement.