Choosing a school

Schools that use federal funds are legally required to offer services to support students with disabilities. Private schools are not.

That means that public schools and charter schools must give support services to those who qualify.

Some private and faith-based schools will offer support and services, but they are not required to do so.

In Massachusetts, all school districts are required to provide special education and related services to all eligible students who live in the district, even if they go to private schools.

It is still important to make sure your child's school will be able to provide your child the structure, classroom size, and other supports they will need to thrive. Know that you do not have federal law to back you up in this case.

Here's what you can do:

  • If you're choosing a school for your child, find out about how the school deals with special education services. Talk to other parents.

  • Remember, private schools must still comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and they must provide accommodations to students with 504 plans.

Click on the box below for more information about private schools in Massachusetts:

Massachusetts requires all school districts to offer special education services to all eligible students who live in the district.

This includes students who attend private schools and students who are home-schooled.

What this means:

  • The school district must evaluate your child

  • The IEP Team must meet to decide if your child qualifies (is eligible)

  • If your child is eligible the Team must create an IEP

  • If your child gets an IEP, the district must provide services regardless of where they attend school

Where will your child get the services?

  • If your child's private school uses federal funds, your child might be able to get services delivered at their private school

  • If your child's school does not use federal funds, they can receive services at a location other than that private school (for example: a public school or library)

  • If the private school is not located in the district where your child lives, the district where the school is located needs to try to provide services nearby the private school; if that's impossible, the district might need to provide transportation to make sure the student can access services

  • This gets confusing! Talk to your school district to learn more.

Important note:
If your child has been receiving services at the public school and you decide to pull your child from that school and enroll him in a private or religious school, you MUST notify the school that your child is leaving if you want the district to continue providing services.

Source: MA DOE

Source: MA DESE

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