Unlike public schools, parochial and private schools that don't receive any public funding do not have to grant students with learning disabilities accommodations under section 504 of the Rehabilation Act. Private and parochial schools that do not receive public funding also do not need to follow the regulations of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which states that public schools must grant students with disabilities a free appropriate public education. In addition, unlike public schools, private schools do not offer students with disabilities IEPs, or Individual Educational Plans.
Because they do not have to adhere to these federal laws governing the education of students with disabilities, private schools vary in the support they grant to students with learning and other disabilities. While years ago, private schools often said that they did not accept students with learning issues, today, most schools accept that learning issues, such as dyslexia and ADHD, and other issues such as autistic spectrum disorder, are common-even among very bright students.
Many private schools have psychologists and learning specialists on staff who can help students with learning issues organize their work and refine their study skills. Private schools also may be able to grant accommodations to help students in school, including the following:
- extra time on tests
- use of a computer for writing in-class essays
- help from a learning specialist to learn how to prepare for tests
- use of a private room for testing
Here are the steps you should pursue to ask for accommodations at your child's school:
Here are more strategies about how to advocate for your child with learning issues.