A Win for the Parents of Special Needs Children

The United States Supreme Court upheld a Second District ruling which required a New York City school district to reimburse a parent’s cost of tuition for a private school for his learning disabled son even though the child never attended public schools. While the case doesn’t set precedent (the Court was evenly split in a 4-4 decision), it does offer a window of hope for those many parents whose public schools don’t meet the needs of their disabled children.

Being a parent of a special needs child, I cannot adequately describe the frustration of trying to get a public school to accomodate special needs and failing to get that special help. The circles we’ve run, the hoops we’ve jumped through…and my husband and I are educated people who know our rights. My husband teaches in the school district. I’m a lawyer. And yet we still struggle. Imagine what it must be like for a parent who doesn’t have the same skills, for someone unfamiliar with the machinations of a governmental entity. Imagine not even knowing that public schools have to help your child succeed by providing special services to them, like an aide to sit with your child in class, more time for tests or homework, sitting in front of the class, time out for special tutoring.

Maybe our school districts will take the initiative and better address those children having a hard time in school, rather than waiting for the parents to demand service or worse, leave to find private education. Maybe knowing they’ll have to foot the bill for private schools even for students who have never attended their school will be the fire they need to improve their methods when it comes to unique children who don’t fit the ideal mold.

Posted by C. Bekhor

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