Friday, June 26, 2009
Parents of Special Education Students Can Be Reimbursed For Private School Tuition And Costs
The Supreme Court recently ruled that parents of special education students can be reimbursed for private school tuition and costs, even if their children never received special education services from a public school. The 6-3 ruling based on an Oregon case sent ripples of concern through public school districts across the nation at a time of budget cuts and layoffs. While the federal government pays a portion of a district's special education costs through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the majority of the costs, including tuition for private or residential school placement, are born by states and local governments. The Supreme Court ruling builds on the 1975 federal special education law's requirement for school districts to provide a free and appropriate public education to students with disabilities and whatever services are needed to obtain it. Each special-education student must have an individual education program, which spells out education goals and the supports and services needed by the students, which can range from extra instruction to a teaching assistant working with the student throughout the day. Therapies and other services also might be required. All are paid for by the district. If the district cannot provide what the student needs, the federal special-education law and several court rulings state the district must pay tuition and costs for private placement.
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