How can parents obtain placement for their child at a school that is not on the state's "approved" list? The leading U.S. Supreme Court case on that subject is Florence County School District 4 v. Carter, 510 U.S. 7 (1993), where the Court held that parents who enroll their child at a non-approved private school may be entitled to reimbursement for tuition and related expenses if they can prove that:
- the child was deprived of a Free Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE") by their school district; and
- the program chosen by the parents was "appropriate."
Since the Florence County S.D. decision, people working in special education litigation have wrestled with the meaning of the requirement that the program chosen by the parents be "appropriate."
- Assuming that the school system has failed to provide an adequate educational program, what standards should be applied to a parent's unilateral choice of placement?
- Does the program need to be a full-blown "special education" program with its staff fully certified as special education teachers?
- Does it need to provide the same or a comparable curriculum to that offered in a public school program?
- Does "appropriate" mean the same for a parent's unilateral choice of a program as it does when a court examines the quality and types of services offered in the public school program under an IEP?