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Comment: Nonpublic Special Education Placements for District of Columbia Public Schools Students with Disabilities 2011

In response to proposed rules regarding the nonpublic school placements of special needs students, Children’s Law Center Policy Director Sharra Greer submitted suggested improvements to the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

The proposed rules relate to children whose special education needs cannot be met in their neighborhood schools and as a result are placed in specialized nonpublic schools, for which the District pays tuition.

In order to best serve the children whose special needs require nonpublic placements, Greer made the following suggestions:

  • Rules regarding excessive absences of students from their nonpublic placements must include provisions that students and families be offered intervention services before the more drastic step of changing the placement is considered. Because children in full time nonpublic placements have some of the highest needs within the DC system, ensuring consistency is crucial to their goal of becoming successful and productive members of DC’s community.
  • The billing system should allow schools to easily submit bills that encompass the wide variety of services children need so that children can be certain to get what they require.
  • Wording in the rules surrounding children’s placement in residential treatment facilities must clearly reflect the law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
  • The rules should specify that placement in schools within the District of Columbia should be given preference only if that placement is appropriate for the student and made in accordance with IDEA.
  • The rules should ensure a child’s proximity to a bus or Metro line is not given undue sway in the placement decision.
  • The rules must be clarified to ensure a clear process for nonpublic schools to appeal for higher tuition and related service rates.

Read the full letter here.