Special Ed for Private Schools

This article about a court case involved private school parents who want the state to provide in-school special ed services appears in today's Times. The case was brought by 3 families whose children attend religious schools and have to go off-campus for state provided services.

Federal law requires services be given to any student at any school they choose but state law apparently narrows that down and the narrowing seems to be the heart of the issue.

I have mixed feelings on this one. I have a special needs child so I know that desire to get services for your child. But I also feel like the funding is so not there for kids already in public schools that if every child at every single private school had to have services at their school, we could bust the bank.

It's interesting because the heart of public education is that public schools have to take all comers and provide services for them. But for all the perceived greatness of going to private school, the downside is that private schools can choose to not provide services if they don't want to (and expect the parents to get the services from public entities) and private schools get to pick and choose who will attend their schools. There's a downside to every kind of education.


AutismMom said…
I have mixed feelings on this one.... I also feel like the funding is so not there for kids already in public schools that if every child at every single private school had to have services at their school, we could bust the bank.

But what kind of services are we really talking about? My understanding is that these services are almost entirely the so-called, "related services". That is, mostly we're talking about speech therapy in a private school. Probably, an hour or less per week. This case was about speech therapy. Arguably, families could request educational intervention too... but I've never, ever heard of that being offered or received in a private school.

So these kids, if they were in public school.... would actually be costing their districts a TON MORE, and getting a worse education, with large class sizes. So, we should think of the cost savings these families are giving their districts. THEY are shouldering the coss of their child's education, probably the cost of most of their special education, and only asking for a small piece from the district... and a piece they are entitled to. That is, the district is getting away with only providing an hour of speech therapy a week... instead a full-blown, expensive education.
me said…
Exactly. The parents that choose to send their kids to private schools still pay public school tax dollars.
Teachermom said…
That was kind of a brief article - how did you know that it was about speech, Autismmom? Is there a longer article elsewhere?

I think that some students could get services in their private schools - doesn't that already happen? I do know that students from private schools are bussed to special ed programs in public schools to receive more than just "related services".

I think the possibility of this working would depend on a lot of things. Special ed teachers would need a room, materials, etc. wherever they worked (they would probably going from school to school, unless the population was large enough to support its own full time sped teacher). I teach K-5, all subjects, including social skills and behavior. I wouldn't be able to travel from school to school with a tote bag and have whatever I needed.

I would think it would be hard to get teachers interested to work like this. It is even hard to work at multiple schools within one system.

It would need to be very clear that the sped teachers were district employees, and not employees of the private schools in which they worked, but of course, they would need to get along with everyone and meet everyone's needs.

I would think that as long as the sped teachers were not teaching religion, it would not be a problem. I am not religious at all, and I would have no problem teaching at a religious school, as long as I was not participating in the religion part of the education.

Another thing to consider is that religious schools would need to practice the same non-discriminatory practices as the school district with regard to the teachers they allowed in their building. They could not specify that the sped teacher in their building follow their religion or have a certain gender/sexual orientation.

I wonder what they do in other states.
AutismMom said…
I heard about this case in a report on NPR. There may well be students bused for some special education service, but this is the first I've heard of it. I do know, for preschool students SPS has something called "itinerant services". Public special education teachers go out to private preschools once a week and work with kids for an hour a week. This is very minimal service to my mind.

I think it would be great if inclusion programs were available in private schools for students with severe disabilities. This may open up many more opportunities for students with disabilities, and save money too.

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