Gottlieb & Gottlieb, LLP


Parental Guides, Resources, and Developments in Education Law

When the Public School Cannot Meet a Child’s Needs, It’s Time to Find a Placement That Does

All children are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). 

In order to ensure that children receive this basic right, a system is in place to address a public school’s failings. Schools often need monetary assistance to provide children with the necessary environment required to learn. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides money to schools to meet children’s needs and partners with school districts in the various states—but there are conditions placed on that money.     

Unfortunately, some schools do not have the capabilities to provide the right educational environment for a particular child. Many children have needs that require a very specialized environment. When the school district cannot meet that need, parents may look at private school placements that are tailored specifically to the needs and learning style of their child. 

For instance, a child with autism may require a school with a sensory motor gym, an ABA curriculum, and an overall behavioral structure suited to the needs of the child. The same is true for other types of disabilities, like speech-language, occupational, etc. The specific and required supports are often not available in the public school. 

Parents who pay privately for school can demand that the school district where they reside reimburse them for tuition costs. It is not uncommon for parents to be conflicted about this request and some even feel like they’re “taking money away” from other children in the district.

It’s really important for those parents to understand that this is an entitlement—and it is necessary because public schools are unable to provide FAPE for their child. Moreover, public school systems receive additional money from the federal government that is on the condition that they provide an appropriate education for children who have special education needs. In situations where parents are left no choice but to sue in order to win the cost of tuition, the litigation money does not come out of the public school budget but rather from a separate litigation budget. 

My belief is that the New York City public school system could educate every student with a disability in a public school setting—but to do so would be astronomically expensive.

What makes more fiscal sense (however unfortunate) is for New York City’s Department of Education to make education programs that are aimed mainly at teaching neurotypical children and pay out litigation settlements and judgments to the families of children with special needs.

Keep fighting for your child’s rights. Do not give up hope. There is an environment that is right for your child. Seeing an attorney is the first step to ensuring your child is receiving a FAPE. 

Contact me and let’s talk about your child’s school circumstances and how we can work together. 

Jonathan Gottlieb

195 Montague Street
14th Floor
Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201
(646) 820-8506