WEST NORTHFIELD SCHOOL DISTRICT NO 31
3131 Techny Road, Northbrook, Illinois 60062
SPECIAL EDUCATION PRIVATE SCHOOL PARENT PROCEDURAL RIGHTS
Explanation of Rights
Thank you for contacting us regarding the special education identification, evaluation and service options available to parents of children in our school district. Enclosed is a booklet which describes in detail parental rights regarding special education. It is our mission and privilege to meet the needs of students with disabilities. We understand, however, that your student is not currently enrolled in this school district but is, instead, enrolled by you in a private school. We want you to know that your rights to special education and related services from our school district are both different and more limited than the rights of students to such services who are enrolled in our school district.
As part of our efforts to provide a free appropriate public education to all children with disabilities enrolled in our schools, we operate a comprehensive system of “child find,” i.e. seeking out children who may have disabilities which adversely affect their educational performance. In addition, we operate a multidisciplinary evaluation system designed to determine the nature of a child’s disability.
All parents of children residing within our district’s boundaries, regardless of whether they are enrolled in our school district or a private school, have a right of access to such identification and evaluation services on a equal basis. We encourage you to exercise your rights in this regard, which are further explained in the attached booklet1 by contacting Beth Parker, Director of Special Education , 847-313-4421 with any questions regarding this issue.
The federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) requires that all children with disabilities enrolled in a public school receive a “free, appropriate, public education.” We wholeheartedly endorse this federal requirement and provide appropriate special education and related services to all children with disabilities enrolled in our District. If you choose to enroll your child with a disability in our district, we will meet with you to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) designed to provide your child with a free appropriate public education.
Significant differences exist, however, between the special education and related services offered to students enrolled in our school district and to those students whose parents have chosen to enroll them in a private school. Federal law does not require school districts to provide private school students with the same level or scope of services as public school students.
1 Please note that the section of the booklet entitled “Unilateral Placement by Parents of Students in Private Schools” addresses the situation in which parents whose child has already been receiving special education services from a school district remove him/her from the public school and place the child in a private school as a result of a dispute with the public school. It does NOT address the situation in which a child is enrolled voluntarily by his/her parents in a private school.
Rather, each school district is required only to devote a “proportionate” share of its federal special education funds to the provision of services to the group of eligible private school students. Our school district, therefore, makes the determination regarding the nature and extent of special education and related services we will provide to such private school students after receiving comments and information from a wide variety of representatives of private school students.
A copy of the District’s plan regarding special education services for private school students is enclosed. Briefly summarized, it provides the following:
§ Speech/language services at District 31 school sites
§ Consultative services by special education staff for students with identified disabilities
§ Transportation, if needed, to access services at District 31 sites.
If your student qualifies for services under the above summarized plan, we will convene a meeting of our personnel, a representative of the private school, yourselves and those whom you choose to invite to develop a services plan to provide special education and related services to your student.
As noted above, as the parent/guardian of a private school student, you have complete access on an equal basis to our school district’s identification and evaluation programs designed to find and identify children with disabilities. In the attached booklet you will see a detailed description of a parent’s right to initiate an “impartial due process hearing.” You may initiate such a hearing if you disagree with us regarding the identification or evaluation process for your student. While we always intend to work together with you to avoid such disagreements or to resolve disagreements that do occur, the Illinois State Board of Education operates a system of independent hearing officers who are appointed to resolve any disagreements which we cannot resolve ourselves.
With regard to the actual special education and related services we provide pursuant to the plan described above, however, such “due process hearing” rights are not available to you pursuant to the express provisions of the federal law. In other words, you do not have the right to initiate a due process hearing regarding the provision of a “free appropriate public education” for your private school child. Rather, you may file a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education and its representatives will investigate any such complaint and order any corrective actions necessary.
We recognize that the questions involved in special education are both complex and important. Please feel free to contact Beth Parker at 847-313-4421 with questions regarding this letter, the enclosed materials, or any aspect of our special education program.
All of us look forward to working together with you in the interests of your student.