Let’s think about the students we serve. Many of them are eligible for special education and have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). If they were to use vouchers to attend private schools, what might this mean for their special education services and supports? Here are some key points from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, reauthorized in 2004:
- Students with disabilities enrolled in private schools should still be evaluated and identified as eligible for special education, if applicable. Local public school districts are responsible for meeting child-find requirements. “Each LEA must locate, identify, and evaluate all children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private, including religious, elementary schools and secondary schools located in the school district served by the LEA” [34 CFR 300.131(a)] [20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(10)(A)(i)(II)]
- When enrolling their child in a private school, parents waive their right to a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), and the services and supports that would be provided to their student with an IEP in a public school. “No parentally-placed private school child with a disability has an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the child would receive if enrolled in a public school.” [34 CFR 300.137] [20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(10)(A)]
If you’re interested in learning more about special education in private schools, here’s another website to peruse.
Wondering what this means and looks like in practice? What is the actual impact of school vouchers on students with special needs and their families? Here’s one article that gives some insight-- "Vouchers Put Some Parents in Squeeze on Special Ed Rights" . There are certainly varied experiences across various settings. If you have a personal experience to share, or find another article documenting a different perspective or experience, please share in the comments section!
Alli Guilfoil, Director of Academic Intervention