Should the Public Pay to Send Kids With Learning Disabilities to Private Schools?


kids with learnign disabilities private schools with taxpayer money supreme courtLast month, the United States Supreme Court ruled that some kids with learning disabilities may be able to skip public school special education programs and enroll in private schools instead—but they wouldn't have to pay, the money would come from taxpayers.

The case before the Court involved a teenage boy in Oregon who struggled in school, but when school officials evaluated him, they concluded he wasn’t eligible for special services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (the special-ed law that entitles all students to a “free, appropriate public education").

The boy's parents took him to a private psychologist who diagnosed him with ADHD, depression, a math learning disorder, and marijuana abuse. They then enrolled him in a private school (without consulting the boy's school, which subsequently decided the boy didn't qualify for special services).

The parents sued the school district for the $65,000 they spent on private tuition—and won.

The court said that public schools have an affirmative obligation to "identify, locate and evaluate all children with disabilities" and that it would be wrong to reward a school district for refusing to find a child eligible for special services.

What do you think? Should public schools be obligated to pay private tuition for special ed students they haven't assisted? Have you tried to get special services for your child in public school? Were you happy with the results?

education, special needs


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1luck... 1luckymama24

wow, this is huge. I have a special needs child, and it is amazing to think that there is a better way to get my child the education she deserves. Unfortunately, I think that the parents should have to pay something. Sliding scale, percentage of earnings, or maybe just volunteer. Nothing is free.

auror... aurorabunny

That would be SO AMAZING if  they would pass that here.  I'm getting ready to pay over $20,000 for one year of my sons private school (my son has autism).

The local school district doesn't offer many of the therapies that he desperately needs.  I think in our situation, they should have to pay for special needs children to go to a private school since they choose to spend all of their money and funding on unnecessary things instead of a good special education program.  But if the public school actually has a good program maybe that would make things different.

Most peoples tax dollars go for their child to get a quality education, it's unfortunate that mine won't.

miriamz miriamz

I think all parents should get education vouchers so they can choose which school to send their kids to just like our elected officials do.

RanaA... RanaAurora

But if the public school actually has a good program maybe that would make things different.

Most peoples tax dollars go for their child to get a quality education, it's unfortunate that mine won't.


Public school just needs to be improved.  It's not okay for a special needs child to get private school funding when typical children are stuck with whatever condition the public schools are in.  We already pay tax dollars for public school which INCLUDES special education programs.  If they suck, that's something that needs to be fixed, not something we should just throw money at to send them somewhere else... because really, that just tells the kids who aren't in special education that they don't matter as much... if their schools sucks, they just have to deal?  No thanks.

We as a country need to fix ALL schools for ALL kids.

eeyor... eeyoreplus4

I'm kind of torn on this one. My daughter is bipolar, adhd & odd and her school said that she doesn't need any special type of care (They even dropped her 504 plan). She keeps getting suspended because she causes problems in regular classes. We are going to try an alternative school for next year & see if that helps.

I don't know that the school should have to PAY for her to go to a private school, but maybe the money that they would get for her could go to the private school instead & then we would have to come up with the extra.

auror... aurorabunny

With all due respect though, it's not the same thing.  Your child NEEDS to learn English right?  My child NEEDS a speech therapist before he can even begin to learn English.  But if it's not offered at his school, then he's going to suffer for it.  It would essentially be like English not being offered in public schools.  It's vital and necessary to his development and learning. 

I agree that the schools should be fixed in lieu of sending children out of district to private schools.  But that's not happening, at least not where I live.  Trust me, I would prefer NOT to be spending my life savings on my 3 year olds schooling.  But I don't really have a choice, unless I choose to send him to district and just let him suffer for it.

auror... aurorabunny

Oh and I forgot to mention, around here the schools cover their butts.  My son needs ABA therapy and of course our district doesn't offer it.  They know it's necessary, and they also know that if a parent finds a necessary service for their child that isn't being offered than that parent could technically file for the district to have to pay for private school.

So they say things like "We try to implement ABA techniques".  They don't, they don't even freaking know what ABA is.  But now their butts are covered.

mommy... mommyansa26

I have a son that has a genetic disorder and this is huge news for me!  I would love to put him in private school where he could get more help!  I am unable to pay the tuition for a private school so this would be great for us if it was passed. 

mom2a... mom2aspclboy

In the case presented in the article, the public school failed to appropriately identify & qualify the child, possibly over a period of years since the article states this was a teenager, and this is why the public school was held accountable & had to pay the private school tuition - The public school FAILED to provide FAPE.

My son attends an Approved Private School, the tuition cost for which is shared between our public school district & our state DOE.  I tried for 6 years to work w/the local school district, but they couldn't follow the simplest requirements of his IEP b/c staff "forgot", "didn't have enough time", "didn't understand the need", etc., etc., etc. He was failing because they were failing him. Since being placed in a private school two years ago, he has learned more than he ever did during his first 6 years in public school.

Think about it this way......If it means sending my son to a private school in order for him to receive an education that will allow him to become an independent & productive adult and it happens to cost the taxpayers a little extra, then so be it. It's much better & cheaper than them paying for him to live off government assistance for the rest of his life, unable to care for himself or be independent of others. One way or another, the taxpayer will pay, so which would you prefer - a few extra bucks now for a decent education or a lifetime of support?

mommy... mommyansa26

I have one more comment to make.  In refrence to the comment left by RanaAurora, it is much harder for children with disabilities to get the help they need.  My son has special education classes along with regular classes.  Untill you have a child with a disability please don't assume things.  Schools are improving every year but that never seems to make a difference.  I am not trying to start an argument.  There is a big difference in your statement. The children without disabilities don't need special education classes. There is a big difference.  Schools are constantly getting new computers, playground equipment, and things for the classroom but very little do you ever hear of special education improvements.

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