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Thriving in the Midst of Chaos: Parenting With Special Needs Kids

Jan 14, 2021

Episode 72: Free and Appropriate Public Education With Guest Dr. Steve Jacobson

In this episode, we discuss evaluations, FAPE, LRE, nonpublic placements, and giftedness. Guest Dr. Steve Jacobson suggests that if a parent feels something is wrong in the schools, they should talk to the teachers, then request a comprehensive evaluation in writing. Then the district gives something to the parents called a permission to evaluate. Even if a child has gotten an evaluation outside of the district, the school systems still have to do their own evaluation. The district will have 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation. If a district refuses to do an evaluation, let them know that you are thinking of talking to an attorney or plan on doing mediation and then they are more likely to do an evaluation.

It is most appropriate to ask for a private evaluation if you completely disagree with the school evaluation. If you already got an outside evaluation, all the school has to do is “consider it.” To increase your chances of it being met with an open mind by the school, let the school know all the outside services your child is receiving, get input from the teachers in some way during the outside evaluation, have your evaluator do an observation in the classroom, have the evaluator be a certified school psychologist, and make sure the evaluator is licensed in the state in which the child is attending school.


If the reports from the school vs the private evaluator are very discrepant and you and the school cannot come to an agreement, you can seek out an attorney, seek mediation, seek the assistance of an advocate, or do a due process hearing. If you ask a district for an outside evaluation, if they say no, they have to request a hearing to defend their decision. Sometimes, the district may agree to pay part of the evaluation or will require you to pick certain evaluators. You can ask to be paid ahead of time or after the fact.


FAPE: Free and appropriate public education. FAPE  grants special education students rights that typical students do not have. These student are entitled to a certain level of quality of education, although appropriate doesn’t necessarily mean best. The placement has to be reasonably calculated to provide the child with benefit and meet the child’s needs. If a parent totally disagrees with the placement, the outcome depends on the reason for the disagreement. First, try to resolve it amicably if possible, and if that doesn’t work, one can do mediation or due process.

LRE: Least restrictive environment. Children with disabilities need to be educated with the max extent possible with non-disabled children. This varies by child. The max extent possible is often an inclusion classroom.


Nonpublic placement occurs when a school district is unable to provide the services needed for the child or unable to find an appropriate school system placement that meets the needs of the child of if a child is not progressing in the school system. To have your child enrolled in a nonpublic school, most hearing officers will not order a specific private school. If a school had provided the child with inappropriate education for a lengthy amount of time, the child will be owed compensatory education, which may result in nonpublic placement payment. Otherwise, a parent can start their child in a private school with their own money and the public school may reimburse the parents if the hearing officer agrees that the child needs a nonpublic placement.

Some states do not recognize giftedness. In the states that do, the children are still entitled to FAPE, and the district has to find them and find appropriate placements for the child. An IEP may still be required and must be individualized to that child. Sometimes there is a pullout gifted program. However,  independent evaluations will not be paid for or reimbursed. There is also no tuition reimbursement. Moreover, there is also reimbursement for attorney fees for giftedness. The level of quality of a gifted education may vary. School districts have different ways of evaluating giftedness, and a child may not be considered gifted in each district.


The Education Lawyers





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Intro Outro: Intro Outro 2 by Mattias Lahoud under CC-BY 3.0 License (

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Hosted by: Jessica Temple and Lewis Temple


Disclaimer: Our show is not designed to provide listeners with specific or personal legal, medical, or professional services or advice. Parents of children with health issues should always consult their health care provider for medical advice, medication, or treatment.

Copyright 2021 Jessica and Lewis Temple