Special Education/private school


This may sound like a weird question but why do schools refuse private placement when their own placement is costing them the equivalent? My distrct has failed. You can actually calculate what they are spending on my son which includes a costly para professional. The salaries are available online. They are refusing a private placement that costs the same as the para's salary, That's not including whatever else they spend. I can't afford this school on my own without incurring heavy debt. What does someone do to obtain private placement? Does this mean hiring a costly lawyer? Thank you.

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My experience is that school districts fight private school placements no matter what. The challenge parents face is that districts have to pay most of the costs of educating your child no matter where you child goes to school. They have to pay for: facilities; operating costs such as utilities; supplies and equipment; teachers' compensation; and direct service people such as speech therapists, OT's, etc. The only true variable cost is for the para professional, which is typically a low paid position.

I think ego gets in their way as well: They believe they are the professionals who best how to educate your child. I have fought many battles for getting districts to pay for private placements. It is always an uphill fight. I have won many of these battles, but only if we can prove with data that the student is not making educational progress. Unfortunately, this bar is set very low because the requirements is only for "some educational progress." I have also won in cases where the safety of the student, other students, and/or staff are in jeopardy.

There are some other legal hurdles facing parents. Schools are legally precluded from placing students in religiously affiliated schools. I have to warn parents that in some cases, private schools are not the answer. I represent some students that have not done well in private schools. Sometimes the private schools are not set up to provide special classes, trained special education teachers, and direct services, such as speech and OT.

Bottom line: It takes a fight which usually requires hiring an experienced advocate or lawyer. I have had to file for Due Process in all but two cases. When my case is strong enough, I have sometimes been able to settle in Mediation prior to going to hearing, but this usually involves the parents paying for some of the costs of the school.

Sorry my news is not any better.

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Tim Runner


Questions concerning special education: IEP, assessments, Due Process, mediation, resolution conference, federal law, state law, qualifying for services, residential treatment, special day classes, resource specialists, procedures, having your child assessed, adaptive PE, speech & language, non-public school, FAPE, and tuition reimbursement.


I have been an education advocate representing students and parents for six years. My experience includes: representing my clients in IEPs, SSTs, Due Process, review assessment results for my clients, and mediations. I have represented clients with learning disabilities, autism, Downs Syndrome, cognitively challenged, emotional problems, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHD, and physical disabilities. I have also represented clients to County Mental Health Departments and Regional Centers. My clients range from pre-school to college students in many states.

I have a degree in Mathematics from the University of California with minors in Psychology and Physics. I also studied applied statistics in psychology at the graduate level. I have taught college classes, conducted seminars, written articles for various publications, and testified as an expert witness.

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