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The term “unilateral placement” is used to describe a parental decision to remove a child with a disability from public school where he or she was receiving assistance under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), place the child in a private school program and look for the school district to pay for the private placement. The local school district may be held responsible for reimbursing parents for the cost of private instruction in the case of a unilateral placement, if the parent can prove the private placement was the only way to ensure a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for your child.
Public Funding for Private Schooling of Students with Disabilities
To qualify for public school district funding for private education of a student with a disability, certain requirements must be met. Ideally, the decision to place a disabled student in private school should be the mutual decision of the parents, the school district, and the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. When all parties agree that the district cannot adequately provide the student with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the public school and that the private program will meet the student’s needs, the district is then responsible for paying for the private placement.
The special education law firm of Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP concentrates in providing legal services for families of students with disabilities. Our experience working with parents and educators enables us to effectively negotiate or mediate agreements such as private school placement decisions. We can accompany you to meetings and help you communicate with school district officials to ensure the best possible outcome for your child.
Possible Funding for Unilateral Placement
If you are not able to come to an agreement with the school district and wish to unilaterally place your student in a private school, Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP may be able to help you secure reimbursement for the cost. In order to be reimbursed by the district, we represent you in hearings (and in court) to prove that the school district was not providing a FAPE to your child and that the private school program meets his or her needs.
However, there are some actions you must take under the IDEA, such as notifying the school district in writing at least 10 days in advance of the unilateral placement or declaring your intentions at your most recent IEP meeting, to avoid having your reimbursement denied or reduced. Therefore, it is important to consult with our disabilities education lawyers as early in the process as possible.
If you are considering removing a child with a disability from public school and placing him or her in a private program, please contact Goldstein, Ackerhalt & Pletcher, LLP today for a free consultation about the legal steps and strategies needed for public reimbursement.