Adam Dayan, Esq.
Appropriateness Of Private Placement
Parents placing their children in private school and seeking reimbursement have to show that the private school is appropriate for their children and an issue that always comes up is how do you show that it's appropriate. Do you have to show that the child made actual progress or is it enough to show that it was reasonable that the child would make progress? This question is clearly answered in G.R. v. New York City Department of Education, involving a boy with learning disabilities and speech and language impairments who was not offered FAPE by the school district and was therefore enrolled in Winston Prep. The parents commenced a hearing in October (just after the start of the school year) seeking reimbursement but the IHO denied that request believing that there was not sufficient evidence of the child's progress. The parents did not have any luck in their appeal to the SRO and the case was appealed again, making its way up to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
The district court explained that the IHO applied the wrong legal standard because parents do not have to show that the child progressed at the private school, only that the private school program was properly designed to allow the child to make progress. This is significant because, otherwise, any parent who reasonably enrolled his/her child in a private school that seemed suited to the child's needs would be denied reimbursement if the child didn't actually make progress. Here the court is basically saying that if the parents make a reasonable, well-informed decision and place their child in a school that is tailored to meet the child's needs and likely to result in educational progress, that's good enough.