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Last Updated: 02/01/2018

 Ask the Attorney with John Brower, J.D.
QUESTION: Is it possible to have my son's school pay for social skills class from a private service provider?
ANSWER: As with many issues facing parents of special needs children, the answers to what appears on the surface to be a simple question takes a bit of an explanation.

First, before issues of who pays for what can even arise, a student must have been found eligible for special education under one of IDEA’s disability categories. Next, the determination of what “special education services” are appropriate for the student (including social skills training) must have been made by the child’s Individualized Educational Planning Team. Under IDEA, parents are fully participating and equal members of their child's IEP Team.

Once the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Team creates the Plan and the school district agrees to implement it, the Plan becomes the road map that is used by the school for multiple purposes. It identifies the goals the student needs achieve to meaningfully benefit from their education. It also identifies the services, both direct instructional and related services that the school needs to provide to accomplish the stated goals. It also provides the parents details as to how progress towards those goals will be measured and how often that measurement will take place.

While it is possible for both in-school and private organizations to provide IEP mandated related services such as social skills training, generally the school district will chose to use their own staff (or that of the ISD) to provide all services. Further, those services are generally provided during the regular school day. Occasionally, due to staffing issues or lack of trained persons, a school will agree to contract with an outside service provider to meet their obligation to provide the student with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Unlike private industry which more and more are using contracted services as a cost saving measure, in my experience having a school pay for private services is very much the exception rather than the rule.

At the same time, if the student’s IEP calls for social skills training and for some reason the school is not providing it, a complaint could be filed. If the complaint is found to be valid, as a compensatory educational service to make up for the missed service, the parent could ask for an award of future outside services or reimbursement for services they have provided.

Hope this helps your understanding.
John Brower, JD
Education Law Center, PLLC

Education Law Center, PLLC · 810-227-9850 · 

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