If parents are looking for private schools that will provide special education classes for their special needs children, they will be largely disappointed. Here are some of the reasons why, unlike public schools, private schools usually are not equipped with special education classes.
Unlike public schools, private institutions are usually limited in finances to provide special education services, according to Understood.org. Because funding is limited for those with special needs in private schools, those children might receive fewer services at no cost to the family than if they were attending a public school. As mentioned below in greater detail, public school districts are only required to set aside a small portion of funds for special education students in private schools.
According to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), public school districts are required to share a small portion of the federal government-bestowed special education funds with special needs students in private institutions. This small portion is referred to as a proportionate share. When this type of funding runs out over the course of the school year, a district can choose to stop services for the remainder of said year. Also, in the private schools students are not entitled to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), but often will be provided Individualized Service Plans (ISPs), and if necessary, a yearly goal will be added for that student by the district. However, this part is not required in all situations.
Limited legal rights
According to Understandingspecialeducation.com, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that children enrolled in private schools do not have the same rights to special education services as those enrolled in public schools. Public schools receive a small amount of money every year, from the federal government, to fund Instructional Educational Plans for special education students who attend private institutions. The amount may vary from year to year, but the money received usually is inadequate for providing any significant services. On the other hand, according to Understandingspecialeducation.com, IDEA does have provisions stating that local public schools must provide certain special education services to those enrolled in public schools. These include evaluating a private school student for special education if referrals have been made, determining if the student is qualified for said classes, developing the right ISP for the student's school, and discussing with the child's parents/guardians and teachers when putting together an ISP is right for the student. If services are approved, the child may not get as many services as they would if they were enrolled in a public school. Examples might include less time for tutoring on certain subjects for children with certain disabilities. Also, according to ISBE, when parents have children enrolled in a private school, they have fewer rights to request due process hearings or file state complaints. It is advised that parents make sure that any issue pertaining to special education and private schools be heard and investigated before requesting due process hearings or filing state complaints.
If parents are searching for private schools that have special education classes for their special needs children, they will be largely disappointed. However, Great Schools has links to lists of schools for those with learning disabilities, whether private, public, or charter schools.