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MyThreeSons

Can a school charge for accommodations?

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A friend of mine, who had homeschooled her kids forever, placed her youngest daughter in a local Christian school this year. The girl was really struggling with academics (pretty much in all subjects), so the school suggested that she be evaluated for learning disabilities. The Mom had her tested through the public school district, and received some good information. 

 

One of the recommendations is that she have tests read to her. The private school says that is fine, but that it will cost $70 per test to have someone read it to her. Can a school do that? Does it matter that the school is private? 

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Bingo.  They can do anything they want, because they're private.  But honestly, that number seems outrageous...  I don't know if they're saying they don't want her anymore or don't want to do it or what, but that's nasty.  They probably pay their employees less than $15 an hour (cs, always tight), and they want $70???  When people do that, they're communicating something.

 

If she needs tests read aloud, she's dyslexic, yes?  So can they get her into a school for dyslexia?  Or pull her out and put the cs tuition into private tutoring?  Private tutoring, done 3-5 days a week, can be SHOCKINGLY effective.  Obviously that's when you get a good fit with tutor and kid.  I'm just saying it can be really effective.  

 

That's great that your friend has evals now to help her target her efforts!  It's really hard to take all that paperwork and figure out what to DO with it.  There's a real "now what??" moment.  For me it was MONTHS.  So your friend is doing the right thing, asking how she applies this, working to get interventions, etc.  

Edited by OhElizabeth
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The thing is this girl really wants to be at this school. All of her friends from church go there. But I don't know how the parents can afford it. Between tuition and these additional fees, that is a bunch of money. It does seem to me that the school is essentially saying they don't want her.

 

Yes, dyslexia is one diagnosis. The tester from the public school told the Mom that with all of her issues, they are surprised at how well the girl is doing in her classes. 

 

On another note, I tutor several students from another local private school. The more involved I am with these kids, the less impressed I am with the school. Our homeschool co-op, which meets only twice a week, covers more material than they do. Pre-calc has done three chapters this semester. All of the material they have done so far this year is covered in our Algebra 2 class. They designate Algebra 1 as Honors if a student takes it in 8th grade, but the 9th graders in the same class only get C.P. credit for it. 

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Is this dc in high school??  If she is, it makes sense there's a strong social component.  if she's not, well then they will want to make some serious, clear-headed decisions, and a dc of elementary age really isn't qualified to sort through that.  If the cs is $6K a year, in our area that would get her 3 hours a week of private OG tutoring with an EXTREMELY QUALIFIED tutor.  Think through that.  She could pull out for a year, get some serious OG with that money, then go BACK with her friends.  The world would not end.  

 

Many people in our area do the same thing with the dyslexia school, going for a few years and then mainstreaming back to their regular school.  It's not like it has to be a *permanent* change.

Edited by OhElizabeth

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My experience has been that staff at the upper logic and rhetoric stage neither know how or want to accommodate.  I had two teachers balk at placing small printers in their classrooms so that DS could hand in hard copies of his schoolwork that he typed.  The school would not give him Internet access in spite of the fact that faculty members gave their own children school network passwords and faculty children were posting videos online of themselves pranking one another during school.... DS was expected to complete the same amount of work in the same amount of time.  We are talking about a 2e dyslexic/dysgraphic.  Son's NP suggested I pull DS simply because his IQ was higher than the majority of the staff.

 

I agree with OhE.  Hire an excellent OG tutor with the tuition that would be used.  Make an extraordinary attempt to keep the student connected with her friends while encouraging new friends at a co-op.  My DS loves his friends at private school and is still connected with them but also made a whole slew of new friends by homeschooling.  He attends high school classes three days per week at the co-op and his former and new friends all speak and get along well during afterschool activities.  There has been a crossing of the streams.  

 

I forgot to mention that the curriculum the school used was terrible and in problem areas, these kiddos need one-on one, direct and explicit instruction.  Son's SAT-10 scores jumped once he came home.

Edited by Heathermomster
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Yes, as a private school, as others have said, they can charge what they want for whatever they want.  It does sound like they are not wanting her there but also keep in mind that the teachers are probably getting paid much less than in a public school and may not have any benefits (several private schools in my area pay the teachers less than they would earn working at the local convenience store and they get no health benefits at all).  The teachers may not want to invest more time into a job that isn't netting them much to begin with.

 

I agree with the posts by the wise ladies above.  Instead of putting that money into paying them to read the tests and on a private school that doesn't seem to be willing/capable of meeting her needs it does seem like putting her in one on one intense tutoring, plus getting her involved in a homeschooling co-op and extracurriculars for social experience plus working on other skill sets might be a much more effective way to go.  

 

If the parents cannot/will not do that or the child is older than elementary and really fighting to go then maybe the parents could have a meeting with administration and the teachers to brain storm other options for how to help her.  Have the parents done some extensive research regarding the testing results?  They need to come at this from a place of knowledge so they can effectively advocate for their child.  The school almost certainly will not have the background and training to understand how to help her so the parents are going to have to do that research and be her advocate.

 

FWIW, if I had those years to do over again I would absolutely have pulled DD out for a year of intense tutoring with someone qualified.  Instead, besides not getting her tested until 5th grade, I wasted YEARS hoping the school could help her.  She limped along, but got further and further behind and more and more demoralized.  She is in a good place now but years behind academically in writing and math.  I should not have wasted that time.  

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Private schools that do not receive federal money can do anything they want including refusing to grant accommodations.  It doesn't surprise me that a school might charge for reading a test aloud.  That potentially could take a lot of time out of someone's day.

 

ETA: When my then high school aged son went to a private school for a year, we only asked for accommodations that were not labor intensive for the staff.

Edited by EKS

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$70 per test is ridiculous.

 

I don't know what it means. She would have to ask the people there and try to figure out what they mean by it.

 

They could mean "you turned down our idea." They could mean "now you request a lower amount of money." They could mean "we don't want her here."

 

It is hard to know.

 

I have heard "one sides" before where it turned out to be something like: "parent claims school refused easy thing." Then it turns out to be something like "the parent was offered to have a low-level staff person read the test, but the parent insisted it be the classroom teacher, and insisted it be done at the exact same time as the other kids take the test."

 

The school is offering "the secretary reads it" or is offering "it is done during a study hall." Or the school is saying "she needs to take a study hall and do it then" and the parent refuses b/c it will mean giving up an elective.

 

I am really hesitant to have an opinion, without knowing something more about both sides, b/c I have been burned with going "oh, really, how horrible" and coming to find out that there was either a) an attempt to compromise that the parent refused, or b) the parent is sharing one-sided information.

 

I am also very willing to believe the worst of the private school. Very, very, very willing.

 

But it is so hard to know. It is really, really hard to know.

 

I think I would have to keep an open mind to some extent, though.

 

My husband had a very bad experience in a "Christian" school, so my default is to believe they are capable of "the worst," but at the same time, I try to overcome my prejudice. I have only heard positive things about the Christian school in my own town, but we would never send my kids there just b/c of things that happened with my husband, even though they have nothing to do with each other, really. That is just our situation. My SIL's other set of in-laws (her husband's parents) want to pay for her kids to go to Christian school, and she refuses, too, b/c she went to the same school as my husband. It is too bad this "Christian" school has sown these seeds, but oh well. My ILs thought it was the right decision and they are nice people, so I think it was just something that turned out to be a bad situation, I guess. (Really, there were red flags, but my ILs were bullied to keep their kids there, kind-of, and were told how "unchristian" other options were, to include other Christian schools that were "too secular," but it was really a bad situation in a lot of ways for my husband and SIL and neither of them want to have anything to do with another Christian school, and it is just.... kind-of sad.)

Edited by Lecka
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Thanks for the input. I really don't know much beyond what the Mom has told me, which I shared in my original post. The girl is in high school. She had been a student at our co-op all the way up until this year. 

 

From what I understand, the testing was done sometime after the school year started, when the school was concerned that she wasn't doing well. I believe they just got the results in the past couple of weeks, and the parents are scrambling to figure out what to do now. Mom was asking me about ideas to help her daughter develop her math / science / critical thinking skills, as the testing showed that she was really low in these areas.

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It sounds like a sad situation.

 

I think, if she gives ideas that would be easier for the school, and the school is not willing to try to compromise or to be creative ---- well, they are not interested.

 

I think, too, it can be a money issue. If they are charging a certain amount per student, they might not have room in their budget to have additional staff, without paying somebody. I don't see how that comes to $70/test, honestly, but they might feel like "we really can't afford to do it."

 

It is hard to say. It could be a lot of things. It could be anything from a "we just can't afford to pay staff and have nobody with wiggle room in their schedule" to a "we don't believe in learning disabilities."

 

Like, is the principal also teaching classes? Is there a secretary? Is there a librarian? If everyone on staff is also teaching classes most of the day -- that is an information point on the side of "they don't have staff."

 

But then -- is a student volunteer impossible? Do they require volunteer hours to graduate? Could this be counted towards a Senior's volunteer hours?

 

At a public school -- I think this would compromise a student's privacy. But at a private school, why not? If there is a study hall with a study hall teacher, why not?

 

Those are the kinds of ideas I have, though.

Edited by Lecka
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Private schools make one pay for everything.  Not sure why that's a surprise. 

 

This hasn't been my experience at all.  "Private schools" covers a very wide range of educational philosophies, school goals/missions, staff ability, and tuition price points.  The private schools I'm familiar with do not charge extra for that sort of support.

 

I wonder if the school feels that since the student has come to them mid-high-school, that the problems should have been addressed previously, and because they weren't, the school shouldn't have to go out of their way to deal with them?  But as a PP said, if this is a scrappy little school with few staff and very little financial margin, that's a different scenario than a well-financed school were there may be many options.

 

Another thought - could the parent hire someone directly to proctor the tests?  If, for example, there is a retired teacher/tutor who would be willing to take on the bulk of the work, they might be available on an as-needed basis for half of the $70/hr rate.  Something to consider.

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Do they yet know about ear reading?  A dyslexic needs to ear read at 3X to keep up with the rate a nonSLD person is reading to take in the same amount of information in the same amount of time.  So she's going to stay behind without intense intervention and use of technology to make up that gap.  She CAN, but it would be better to pull her out and do nothing but audiobooks for everything and then tutors for the math and OG.  Seriously.  Money better spent.  Just for a year.  And if that was the start of high school, then grade adjust!  Withdraw, do the tutoring, and go back next fall.

 

Really though, this dc may be so creative that she would thrive under that sort of interest-driven approach.  If she did audiobooks (working to get that speed up to 2-3X) while working on her hobbies and then had tutoring 2 hours a day, that would be a really terrific schedule.  Then maybe see if there is *1* class she could go to at the cs, like art or band or something, just so she could participate in a sport maybe.  Some cs will let you do that with partial enrollment.  That would be a way to bridge that gap.

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An OG tutor, top quality, in our area is $65 an hour.  NO WAY I'd pay $70 for ANY reason to get a test read.  Get the test on pdf and have Voice Dream read it.  The app is $20 and a one time purchase.  Easy solution.  She probably needs a limited distraction environment anyway.

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I wonder mythreesons...what would be stopping her from having the testing done at the public school? I'm sorry, I may have missed it if you said.

 

Here's been out experience.

We had a 13 to dyslexic and other things. When we adopted him, be was in a private run school. We brought him home and testjed him, be was on about a low 5th grade level, some things 3 rd. But, we had him home, bought him up to close gr level, he then went back to the public school for high school and we had to INSIST, MAKE them give him full testing ( he had an IEP when he was younger and in ps) so they gave him the testing , he tested like we knew he would ,but the school gave him nothing. Nothing.

 

Maybe she could get him testing at PS Nd accomdations from good ole fashioned mom lol. With some private tutoring for weakest areas? Sounds to me like maybe more would be more academically effeiciemt and cost effective .

Edited by Kat w

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I just thought of something. This particular school is associated with -- in fact, is on the campus of -- a college which offers education majors. I wonder if they could work in reading a test for a student as part of a campus job. 

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The Mom didn't really ask me for advice, other than how to help her daughter develop her non-verbal skills. She mentioned the charge for reading tests, and I just wanted to be sure that wasn't illegal. 

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The important thing, is she was tested through the public school district, who then made the recommendations.

Under FAPE, if a school district does an evaluation and makes recommendations, for a student in a private school?

Then the private school is legally entitled to claim funding from the school district. To meet the recommendations, that they recommended.

 

If this was a private evaluation and recommendation, then they wouldn't have to fund it.

But when it is an evaluation and recommendation through their own school psych, then the costs can be claimed from the school district.

Where they will pay what it would cost in a public school.

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:iagree:

 

Our local public school has a pot of funds (perhaps federal money? maybe from the state? not sure?) to use to provide services to students who are enrolled at a private school, if the public school has evaluated them and found them to have learning disabilities. They call it a "service plan." We are going through this now, and I'm surprised (in a good way) at what they are able to offer to my children. For example, the public school will be sending an intervention teacher to the private school daily, for a designated period of time, to work with my kids for the spring semester.

 

There are more details about how this works that apply to our particular circumstances but may not be relevant in your friend's case. You might want to advise your friend to check with your state board of education to find out what happens in your area. The public school may not offer the information that these funds may be available, so she might need to ask. (And the school may have already designated the funding to help other students, so it might not pan out. But it is worth asking about.)

 

Some Christian schools will not accept federal funding and do not work with local public schools. Some do.

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When DD attended a private school for dyslexic children, it became clear to me that "reading a test" to a dyslexic student actually requires some skill beyond the ability to read (on the end of the "reader"). It actually required more than simply "reading" the test to the children.

Dyslexic children often have co-existing "other" LDs like auditory processing problems and/or working memory issues and/or writing issues - all of which affect HOW a test can be (or should be) read aloud to them.

I'm going to suggest, gently, that the school doesn't employ anyone qualified in SNs - or, if they do, that is probably one or two teachers who have their own class load to deal with.

A private school that receives no public monies doesn't generally have the funds (and 6K a year is actually pretty low for tuition and would suggest a non-profit situation) for special needs services. Our local catholic schools do not have resources for any but the most mild of learning disabilities - unless the parent pays for it themselves (at least not the last time I checked) - they simply haven't the funding. 

 

It's very possible that this school may have to hire someone to come in to read this test to your friend's daughter. It is very possible that they haven't any qualified staff floating around that would be available to read this test aloud to her (especially if the accommodations include extended time and/or taking the test separately from the other students - which is pretty much a given when a test has to be read aloud to one student).

Edited by AimeeM
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The important thing, is she was tested through the public school district, who then made the recommendations.

Under FAPE, if a school district does an evaluation and makes recommendations, for a student in a private school?

Then the private school is legally entitled to claim funding from the school district. To meet the recommendations, that they recommended.

 

If this was a private evaluation and recommendation, then they wouldn't have to fund it.

But when it is an evaluation and recommendation through their own school psych, then the costs can be claimed from the school district.

Where they will pay what it would cost in a public school.

IF the private school accepts public monies. Some do not - for valid reasons. Sometimes accepting public monies mandates that private school conform in ways that are unacceptable to the private school (for religious or other reasons). 

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