Thursday, October 11

Supreme Court lets parent-friendly special ed decision stand

With a split vote yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a decision made in a New York appeals court that allows parents of kids with special needs to receive tuition reimbursement for private schools even if they do not first enroll in a public school.

The facts of this particular case made it a flashpoint for debate -- the parent who was seeking reimbursement is a multi-millionaire -- and the Supreme Court's action is a good one. The appeals court decision protects kids in special education and their families, who are free to seek the placements that are right for them quickly and without interruption to their schooling. The decision applies in New York, Connecticut, and Vermont.

In addition to paying for private placements for 7,000 kids whose needs the DOE agrees it cannot meet, the city is now paying $57 million a year in private school tuition for more than 3,600 kids whose parents have enrolled them in private school without first going through the DOE, the Times reports, and these numbers are up significantly in recent years. Ignoring the DOE's spotty track record in educating kids with disabilities, the DOE's lawyer told the Times, "This [decision] detracts from schools’ abilities to work with parents for the best possible educational outcomes for children with disabilities."

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