By Kevin Fech, Cudahy, Wisconsin
Originally published 5/30/2013, Bad Choice for Special Needs, in the Journal Sentinel
I am a parent of a young man who is succeeding in his home school district and would be eligible for the special needs scholarship.
It is not “choice” when one is forced to give up his or her legal protections.
First, the legal representation is not the only, nor is it the first, step in the appeal of district accountability. There is an appeal process that does not require lawyers.
Second, voucher schools also can deny enrollment. They may not have the resources to educate an individual with complex medical needs or even those who may have a slightly higher need.
Third, voucher schools do not have to offer a transition program, a program essential to ensure that students have opportunities to become contributing members of their community.
Fourth, voucher schools do not have to keep students enrolled until they are 21, a time that might be needed to continue that transition process.
Fifth, while the home district does create the IEP, there is no process for updating the IEP once a student achieves his or her outcomes. Nor is there a process for the voucher school failing the student. If that voucher school fails the student, the student may need to return to the home district, yet the funds would stay with the voucher school. There is no mechanism to return those funds at this time.
Sixth, some voucher schools may be religious in nature and they are exempt from Americans with Disabilities Act compliance, making it impossible for some individuals with disabilities to even safely enter the building.
Finally, and most important, the student gives up his or her rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a significant piece of civil rights legislation for all students with disabilities.