Private School and Homeschool Students
How to get free speech therapy if your kids aren't enrolled in public school
Having worked in California public schools for almost six years now, I can tell you that accessing speech and language services through the public school system can feel daunting. I have put together this guide to address some of the common questions and misconceptions behind accessing speech and language services in the public school system.
What about children enrolled in private schools?
Can I request an assessment if I have enrolled my child outside of the public schools?
The short answer is… YES! You can request an assessment, but it can be complicated.
Be aware that per the law, “children, when placed by their parent in private schools, do not have the right to receive some or all of the special education and related services necessary to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). (20 USC 1415[a][A]; 34 CFR 300.137 and 300.138; EC 56173).”
You may request an assessment as discussed above. If your child qualifies, you will be offered an IEP written as if your child would be attending your local public school. You then have two options:
- deny the offered services in the public school system in favor of continuing at your private school,
- or, accept the offer and begin enrollment in the public school.
What happens if I deny services?
If you deny the offer, the school district will develop an Individual Service Place (ISP) instead of an IEP. Only a very small amount of funding is provided to school districts in order to deliver services via ISPs.Thus, the services offered via an ISP will likely be greatly reduced from what would be offered in an IEP.
If your child is found eligible for any special education services, they may offer services in those areas. For speech and language, services are typically offered once or twice a week for about 30 minutes, and are usually held in a small group. This depends on the severity of the impairment and recommendation of your speech therapist and IEP team. If your child is not currently enrolled in a district preschool program, these services may be offered as “walk on” or “by appointment” on a weekly basis, such as every Monday from 9:30-10:00. If your child is enrolled in a district preschool program, their speech services will be provided when they are attending school during the day. This might be in the classroom in a small group, or in a different room on campus, like the speech therapist’s office.
Please note: Speech and language services are considered part of “Special Education”. If the only area of disability is a speech and/or language impairment, this will not necessarily affect their class placement in school. The term “Special Education” refers to any service provided outside of the general education curriculum. This does not necessarily mean that your child will be placed in a special education class.