Special Education Law Tip #13: Dial Back Privately Provided Services
Most parents’ natural inclination is to help their children succeed. Because of this desire, many parents of children with special education needs choose to provide their child with privately funded special education services to fill in the gaps when the school’s instruction is deficient. While this may be beneficial in the short term by helping bring a child up to speed, it can be detrimental to any attempt to increase the child’s school-based special education services or gain an out-of-district placement.
In order to intensify or change a child’s services or placement, parents typically must be able to show that the district’s program failed to help their child make meaningful or effective progress. This showing is often made through the use of standardized testing and score comparisons from standardized measures over time. When a child’s scores continually improve in response to the initiation of privately funded services, the district is able to take credit for the upward trend, arguing that it is impossible to discern what instruction is responsible for change.
Although it is extremely difficult to see your child struggling in school, parents should consider whether or not privately funding additional services is helping them reach their goal of receiving additional services through the school system or an out-of-district placement. Choosing to pull a child from privately funded services that seem to be working can be an extremely difficult decision. However, for many parents we work with, this sacrifice in the short term will allow parents to achieve what they are seeking in the long term for their child: a free appropriate public education. If you as a parent believe your child requires additional services or placement in a more specialized environment to make progress, then you may need to dial back the level of support you are providing privately in order to assess what your child is capable of achieving through the educational programming provided by the school district alone.
This is often the hardest conversation we have parents, but depending on the circumstances of your child’s individual case, this short term sacrifice may be necessary to help you get the additional support you are seeking from the school district.
If you are concerned that your child’s special education needs are not being met, please contact an attorney in our office today – we would be happy to speak with you about your child’s case.