FCSN > SEPO > About Private Placements > What Are Special Education Private Schools?
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What Are Special Education Private Schools?

By law, public schools are required to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to all children in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). If a child’s needs cannot be met in the public school, then they must pay for the child to attend an alternative placement that meets the child’s needs. A child’s services and placement are determined by their IEP, not by what the school has available.

Special education private schools are:

  • created for children who have educational needs that are beyond what can be offered in their local public schools
  • designed to meet a student’s unique learning, social, and emotional needs and serve many types of disabilities
  • sometimes called “Chapter 766″ schools. Chapter 766 (now Mass general law Ch 71B) refers to the Massachusetts law that guarantees the rights of children with special needs (age 3-21 years) to an educational program that meets their needs.
  • located throughout Massachusetts and the nation
  • receive public funding; typically tuition is paid by the local public school system or other agency that referred the child. Because local school systems are required to educate every student in their community, they are responsible for funding tuition (with some reimbursement from the circuit breaker funds; link to glossary term).

Some children are able to return to the general education classroom in their public schools. The key to students returning is their obtaining the skills needed to function not only in class but in society. A vast array of individualized services can be provided to achieve this goal, such as special education, psychiatry, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, psychological/social work services, adaptive physical education and recreation, nursing services, life skills training, vocational training, and job placement.