Traditional public schools are government operated and funded institutions. Being that these schools receive federal funding, they are required to follow federal regulations and mandates. With regard to special education rights and protections, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is the primary federal law governing public schools. The IDEA requires that each child be provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE"). The IDEA defines FAPE as follows: special education and related services that (a) have been provided at public expense; (b) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (c) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and (d) are provided in conformity with the individualized education. 20 U.S.C. § 602(9).
On the other hand, private schools are generally funded through the tuition of their students and do not receive federal funding; because of this they are not bound by the same federal laws and regulations as public schools. Specifically, with regard to the providing of special education services, private educational institutions are not bound by the requirements of the IDEA.
The IDEA does, however, require all Local Education Agencies (LEA) to apportion a specific amount of their IDEA funding to be used to provide special education services to children who have been parentally placed in private educational settings. 34 C.F.R. §300.132. With regard to apportionment of these specific funds, LEA are required to have timely and meaningful consultations with private school representatives and representatives of parents of parentally-placed private school children with disabilities. 34 C.F.R. §300.134. These funds, however, must be applied in a way that will not benefit the private educational institution itself. 34 C.F.R. §300.141.
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Navigating the road of special education law can be difficult and confusing, if you have any questions about your child's special education placement or services, Contact us by email or call us at 714-602-1498 or 866-781-7723 (toll free) for more information.
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