Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 16
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hours, often accompanied by tears.
"She lost a lot of confidence. She
couldn't read the material. I started
doing her homework just so that it
would be counted," said Kerrigan,
who asked that the district not be
named because she has another
child attending school there.
When Emma's school suggested a
new individualized education program that would involve an hour
daily of after-school tutoring, Kerrigan had enough. For 5th grade,
she enrolled Emma in the Lawrence School, which is specifically
for students with learning disabilities and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
In return for accepting a
voucher for enrollment in private
school, under Ohio's Jon Peterson Special Needs Scholarship
Program, Emma's mother had to
waive her daughter's individual
right to special education services
under federal law.
The voucher is also only available to children with a current,
finalized IEP under the federal
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, meaning that families
cannot access the funds if a dispute
is holding up the completion of the
Kerrigan also had to come up
with another $18,000 that year to
cover tuition costs that the $5,000
part-year voucher did not meet.
Kerrigan said she is grateful for
the money. Emma, who will start 6th
grade in the fall, is thriving at her
new school. The family expects to receive a larger voucher in future years,
but it will still cover only a fraction of
the school's $23,000 tuition.
But giving up the civil rights afforded to public school students
under the special education law is a
sacrifice, Kerrigan said.
"Short term, [the voucher] is amazing. It helps a lot of families. I'm very
appreciative of it," Kerrigan said. The
4-year-old voucher program is named
after a former state representative,
who championed its creation.
But, she added, "I don't think anyone should have to waive any rights
whatsoever. What does it harm anyone? It's the parents' dollars that
they're putting in the school."
School Choice Options
Modern-day vouchers and other
school choice programs, such as
educational savings accounts and
tax-credit scholarships, have been
in place since 1989, when Wisconsin started a program in Milwaukee. Vouchers provide state
money to parents that they can
then use to pay for private school.
Tax-credit scholarships allow businesses or individuals to claim tax
credits for donations made to approved scholarship organizations,
which then distribute money to
Education savings accounts, one
of the newest types of school choice
Dustin Franz for Education Week
Take a School Voucher,
Give Up Spec. Ed. Rights
programs, provide money to families
that they can use for a variety of approved expenses, including private
school tuition, therapy, or tutoring.
All those programs-regardless of
the state-generally have one thing
in common: By accepting the funds,
students with disabilities leave
many protections of the IDEA behind. The law, now 40 years old, has
an extensive set of rules and policies
that public schools must abide by,
from the timely creation of a child's
education program to how-or if-a
child can be removed from a school
because of discipline issues.
Giving up those protections is a
problem, according to the Council
of Parent Advocates and Attorneys,
which describes its mission as protecting and enforcing the legal and
civil rights of students with dis-
abilities. The organization released
a report last month that surveyed
the legal landscape of voucher
and other school choice programs.
(COPAA also organized a panel on
the report that was moderated by
COPAA members had mixed
views on the value of school choice
options themselves: The report
said that some parents see a clear
benefit to the programs as a way
to escape public schools that are a
poor fit. Other members noted that
there's little research to support
that children with disabilities who
use vouchers end up performing better than those who remain in traditional schools.
But whether vouchers themselves are worthwhile, the organization said that students
SPECIAL EDUCATION AND PRIVATE SCHOOLS
A little more than 1 percent of the nation's 6 million school-aged
children with disabilities were placed by their parents in private school
in 2014-15. Another 3 percent were educated in separate schools
for students with disabilities, which could be public or private.
But a family's access to rights under the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act changes depending on whether the school district
or the parents initiated the private school placement.
Here's how different placements are handled under the law.
* District is required to spend a proportion of its federal
Emma Kerrigan, right, attends
the private Lawrence School
in Broadview, Ohio, with help
from the state's voucher
program for special needs
students. She shows her
award for perseverance
in mathematics to, from left,
her sister Kiara Kerrigan,
mother Bernadette Kerrigan,
and cousin Michael Ettorre. In
exchange for accepting a
voucher to attend the private
school, Emma's mother had to
waive her individual right to
services under federal special
funds on private school students.
* Students have no individual rights to services as they
would if they were in public school.
* Some children could receive services while
others do not.
* The type of services may be different from
those that would be available if the child
were in public school.
PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT
A school district has the
responsibility to evaluate all children
in its jurisdiction to see if they are
eligible for special education services,
which is called "child find" in IDEA.
If a child is enrolled in private school,
the school district where the private
school is located is responsible
for the evaluation.
PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT
PRIVATE SCHOOL STUDENT
* In most cases, regarded as a
* Families retain all rights guaranteed
under the IDEA.
* Placement is free to families.
* Schools must meet similar standards
to public schools.
SOURCES: U.S. Department of Education, Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
16 | EDUCATION WEEK | July 20, 2016 | www.edweek.org
parentally placed private school
student under the IDEA.
* Parents must pay balance of costs that voucher
does not cover.
* Some states will not give vouchers to parents who
are in a dispute with the school district.
* Students are allowed to have reasonable
accommodations under the Americans with
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - July 20, 2016
Education Week - July 20, 2016
First-Generation College-Goers Try Campus Life
Dose of Empathy Found To Cut Suspension Rates
Vouchers Put Some Parents in Squeeze on Spec. Ed. Rights
Data Loom Large in Quest for New School-Quality Indicator
Detroit District Splits To Shore Up Schools
News in Brief
Common Core Poses Logistical Challenges In Writing Instruction
Longtime Leader in Education Journalism Passes the Baton
Schools Prepare to Confront Questions on Race, Policing
Blogs of the Week
Landmark Equity Study Turns 50
A Persistent Divide
Digital Device Choice Has Noticeable Impact On Test Performance
Will FAFSA Changes Speed Up Aid Awards?
U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015-16 Term
States, Districts Eyeing Chance to Craft Innovative Tests
K-12 Issues: Where the Candidates Stand
Setting the Education Department’s Direction
Blogs of the Week
ALICE JOHNSON CAIN: ESSA Could Leave Vulnerable Students in Limbo
ERICA FRANKENBERG & LILIANA M. GARCES: What Fisher v. University of Texas Means for K-12 Districts
SAUL DREVITCH: The Wisdom of an 8th Grader
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
ADAM KIRK EDGERTON: K-12 Schools: We Have Our Own ‘Brexit’ Problem
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Detroit District Splits To Shore Up Schools
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 2
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 3
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - News in Brief
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Report Roundup
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Common Core Poses Logistical Challenges In Writing Instruction
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Longtime Leader in Education Journalism Passes the Baton
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Schools Prepare to Confront Questions on Race, Policing
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 9
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Landmark Equity Study Turns 50
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 11
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - A Persistent Divide
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Digital Device Choice Has Noticeable Impact On Test Performance
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Will FAFSA Changes Speed Up Aid Awards?
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 15
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 16
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 17
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 18
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 19
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 20
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - States, Districts Eyeing Chance to Craft Innovative Tests
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - K-12 Issues: Where the Candidates Stand
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 23
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Setting the Education Department’s Direction
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Blogs of the Week
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 26
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 27
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - ERICA FRANKENBERG & LILIANA M. GARCES: What Fisher v. University of Texas Means for K-12 Districts
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - SAUL DREVITCH: The Wisdom of an 8th Grader
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - Letters
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 31
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 32
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 34
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - 35
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - ADAM KIRK EDGERTON: K-12 Schools: We Have Our Own ‘Brexit’ Problem
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - CT1
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - CT2
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - CT3
Education Week - July 20, 2016 - CT4