Ask the Experts

Q: Can My Child Transfer to a Private School Due to Bullying?

If a student with ADHD or LD is being bullied and teased relentlessly, what legal rights does he have to ask the district for a “safety transfer” to a local private school? What steps should parents take to solve the bullying problem? Our educational legal expert weighs in.

Adult consoling girl

Q: “If a student with ADHD or LD is being bullied and teased relentlessly, what legal rights does he have to ask the district for a ‘safety transfer’ to a local private school? Is the district legally obligated to pay tuition?”

A: If a child is being bullied because of their disability, that is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and some schools will respond by making a “safety transfer” by moving the child to a new school.

But before it comes to that, parents should first meet with the teacher to determine whether she is aware of the bullying and capable of stopping it. If the child doesn’t have an IEP, implementing one should be a priority. If he already has one, check to see how the teacher is following it. If the teacher is unable or unwilling to help, reach out to the administration in the building.

If the bullying violates the child’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the caregiver might consider speaking to a local attorney about the option of putting their child in a private school and obtaining reimbursement from the district for their failure to deal with the bullying situation.

If the child is being bullied for social reasons, receiving reimbursement from the school might be more complicated. The only direct right to reimbursement that I am aware of is for children who are not getting a free and appropriate public education and who have IEPs. Unfortunately, the US Department of Education has taken a step back from enforcement, but it can’t hurt to speak to an attorney in your jurisdiction to see what your child’s rights might be.

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This content came from the ADDitude webinar by Susan Yellin, Esq., titled “A Parent’s Guide to Changing Schools: How to Find the Best Match for Your Student with ADHD or LD” That webinar is available for free replay here.

Susan Yellin, Esq., is a member of the ADDitude ADHD Specialist Panel.

Updated on April 12, 2019

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