Public v. Private School – Tough Choices

July 23, 2009 at 8:33 PM Leave a comment

by guest blogger Thuli Katerere

In Forest Grove School District v. T.A, the Supreme Court ruled that in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, (IDEA), parents of children with disabilities are entitled to reimbursement for the cost of private school if their public school cannot offer an adequate Individualized Education Plan, (IEP).  The IDEA guarantees free, appropriate public education for all children with disabilities.

Considering I am not a parent, nor have I ever been the main care-giver for a child with special needs, my opinions and insights are of course, only mere speculation.  It is impossible for me to know exactly the difficulties families face in acquiring the best care and education for their children and their struggles as advocates in a world of inequality. It would seem, though, that the best solution would be for public schools to make a concerted effort to have the adequate facilities, programs, and personnel to educate children with special needs. The parents involved in suits like this have attempted to send their children to public schools, but have found them lacking. Does it make more sense to invest funds before legally dictated reimbursements become necessary?

The process of approval for a reimbursement is hardly easy.  The law stipulates that many conditions be met before a family is eligible, including filing a request before enrollment into the private school.  And requests for reimbursement are not always approved; making the legal route of acquiring the best education for a child a monumental struggle.  Like these families need more work!

Some parents believe that their children would face difficulties in a public school environment, and so a private or school for special needs becomes their first option.  But the parents who feel inclusion is better for their child deserve to have access to a quality education without taking legal measures.  Although several children will surely benefit from the Supreme Court’s ruling, the larger issue remains.  Because of the flawed nature of our current system these children have to battle even for their education.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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