Q:

What accommodations will my fourth-grader with learning disabilities get if I take him out of public school and put him in a private school? -- Decision to Make

A:

The public school district in which the private school is located has the obligation to make benefits and services available to children with disabilities enrolled in private schools. However, the public school's responsibilities to these children are different from its responsibilities to public school children. Some parentally placed children may not receive any services, while others will. If your child gets services, they will be spelled out at an annual Individual Education Plan meeting.

The local education agency (public school) has the obligation to locate, identify, evaluate and spend a proportionate share of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds for equitable services for children enrolled by their parents in private schools in that district. They are also required to consult with the parents and private school representatives so that children with disabilities can participate in special education and related services. The services may be offered at the private school or at an alternate location.

Probably, the best way for you to get a clear picture of what accommodations your child is likely to receive is to talk to the special education coordinator at the private school where you might enroll him. You also can get more information from the Office of Non-Public Education at www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/index.html. Parents need to be familiar with IDEA laws to make sure that their children receive needed help.