I frequently hear from parents who are unsure whether their child’s school district can legally have a “policy” against providing certain kinds of services, supports, or accommodations to kids with special needs.
Usually this question arises after a parent has attended a Team meeting and requested that their child receive a specific type of support (e.g., a 1:1 aide, ABA services, specialized reading instruction, access to sensory tools, use of a laptop, etc.). In response to the request, the parent is told by the school district that the student is not entitled to receive the requested support because:
- “We don’t do that here.”
- “It’s against district policy.”
- “No student in the district gets that kind of support.”
- “If your child gets this service, we’ll have to provide it to other students too.”
The problem with this kind of blanket denial approach by a school district is that it contravenes one of the most important aspects of the IDEA – namely that the Team is supposed to build an IEP around each student’s unique learning needs, not around the resources of the school district. IEP planning should be a highly individualized process that is designed to address each student’s particular needs.
So, the bottom line is that if a student needs a particular type of service, accommodation, support, or even another type of placement, in order to receive a free appropriate public education, then the school district must provide it regardless of what their “policy” may be.