Reply To: To Have an IEP or 504 Plan or not to have?

Dr. Eric

Some pointers from a school administrator.

– Private schools can pretty much make their own rules so long as there is not blatant discrimination.
However, the local school district is required to participate in “Child-Find”.
See the federal guide on IDEA and private schools here.

– With that being said, 99% of all private school assessment requests that myself or my staff have ever received have been pushy parents saying “My kid get straight A’s, but has to work really hard for them” or “They won’t get into Harvard if you don’t offer modifications on the SATs” Meanwhile, parents with real needs are silently suffering.

– If you do get a public school evaluation, they are not looking at a nuanced clinical diagnosis. They are looking at “will the child qualify for special education?” The most common mistake that I see on these forums is that the disability does not drive eligibility, the level of impairment does.

For special education, you must have a qualifying disability AND cannot get a measurable educational benefit without special education (In IDEA, this is embedded in CFR 300.8. Here in CA, Education Code 56026). A meaningful and measurable educational benefit is called “FAPE” (Free and Appropriate Public Education). This is a high threshold to qualify.

Another issue with private school evaluation is that eligibility requires the team to rule out the quality of instruction and quality of school experience. If the private school or teacher has a questionable reputation, this could be an issue.

Once the assessors have met the minimum requirements to determine eligibility, they are done. This may or may not result in a report that is useful for your purposes.

– 504 Eligibility – 504 requires a student to have a disability AND it impairs a major life function that the school needs to accommodate. It is a more open eligibility criteria, but I am not aware of the public school’s child-find requirement extending to private schools for 504’s.

Now, once you get an assessment and eligibility is determined, you still have to contend with what a private school is or is not willing to do for you.