Q:

My son is a freshman in a private high school. He has been diagnosed by our pediatrician with attention-deficit disorder and works with a tutor. His English teacher says that the tutor can't edit his essays. Is this fair? Is this legal? What does the law say? My son is at a disadvantage in competing with children who do not have disabilities. -- Unfair Advantage

A:

The private schoolteacher has the right to decide how an essay is to be written in his or her classroom. Having a tutor edit your son's work could change the essential nature of the assignment, especially if it were to be graded for spelling and grammar. You and your son can talk to this teacher about the special accommodations you believe he needs in order to compete with his classmates. The teacher might agree to some accommodations. If your child were in a public school and diagnosed with a learning disability, his Individual Education Plan might require that he be given certain accommodations such as being able to use computer spelling and grammar programs for written work.

The laws dealing with learning disabilities do not require private schools to provide services to students with learning disabilities. Those services are for students attending public schools. Some private schools do have agreements with public schools that allow groups -- not individuals -- to receive special services. Incidentally, while your son is not entitled to special services from the public-school system, he is entitled to an evaluation of his learning problems and needs.

Your son is in high school. The next four years are very important for him. If the private school and tutor are not able to give him the help he needs, you might consider having him transfer to a public school. If you do, you should take all the information that you have on your son's learning problems to the public school and request that your child be tested. Start now if you wish to have him enroll in a public school next year, as it can be a long and slow process.