Special-needs students sent to private schoolsTop Stories

May 05, 2016 17:24
Special-needs students sent to private schools

Many public school districts are paying private schools to provide individualized education that they likely could not supply or afford on their own. Special neds students in the private day schools are to be reintroduced into traditional classrooms once their behaviors have steadied. Private schools often can accomplish this at a fraction of what it would cost public schools. These private schools only teach students with special needs and they pull students from across the Valley, driving down the per pupil cost for teachers, equipment and technology.

"They want to make sure the kid is stable as a whole - social, emotional and academically. They make sure all those needs are met," said Thomas, who has had three children go through private-school programs.

"Even kids with more significant needs need to and can be included (in traditional classrooms)," Vanessa DiCarlo, a special-education advocate and consultant said.

"It's actually beneficial for them to place them outside of the district than it is to try to use their resources, to try to create their own program," said Brian Shipman, president of Aurora Day School in Peoria.

"You're talking about a very small percentage of students on the whole and it's a challenge for every single district to be able to have a program that meets the needs for all these students," Erik Ryan, president of the Arizona Association of Private Special Education Programs said.

"The cost to place a kid in a private program typically exceeds that which the school system gets reimbursed probably by about 20 to 30 percent," Ryan said. "That's the unfortunate reality."

"The private providers are really making every effort they can to try to keep the cost in line because they hear the feedback from the districts," Ryan said. "We know that they don't have excess money to be able to support these programs but yet they need the services — it's a critical need."

"We try to keep the cost close to the same rates that the district is reimbursed so they don't spend an excess of what they're getting for a particular student population," said Rick Weathers, president of the Desert Choice Schools advisory board.

By Premji

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