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  • Writer's pictureAdam Dayan, Esq.

What Happens If An Alternative School Placement Has A Religious Component?

What Happens If An Alternative School Placement Has A Religious Component?

In New York, if a student qualifies for special education services, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that an individualized education program (IEP) be developed outlining the supports and services that would be appropriate for the student. If the Department of Education (DOE) cannot provide a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) suited to the student's needs a parent may seek reimbursement for an appropriate private school placement. An issue can arise if the private special education school also has a religious component.

Tuition Reimbursement for Private Schools With A Religious Component

The NYC Department of Education (DOE) always argues that if the impartial hearing officer (IHO) awards tuition, the tuition should be reduced by the percentage of the curriculum that is religious. This includes time on the schedule for prayer and theological studies. Some IHOs make it their practice to automatically deduct for religious content. At the Law Offices of Adam Dayan, we never concede the religious subjects.

Kelly Bronner Associate Attorney
Kelly Bronner Associate Attorney LOAD

Recently, an IHO who has been working in special education law for over 20 years presided over a case where we were seeking funding for a brand new religion-based private school designed for students with language-based learning disabilities. The IHO asked the attorney of record, Kelly Bronner, Associate Attorney at the Law Offices of Adam Dayan, if we were only seeking funding for the secular portion of the curriculum, and said she had never seen a family ask for a religious school to be fully funded. However, she also stated that she was open to arguments in favor of it.

In the firm’s closing brief, Kelly cited Espinoza v. Montana, a case from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that religious private schools cannot be excluded from public funding available to private schools, and additionally argued that the student’s religious curriculum supported his overall educational development. This new school at issue in the matter did an excellent job of providing detailed reports that showed what the student was learning in all subjects. The IHO was persuaded, and of her own accord cited Carson v. Makin, a 2022 case that extended the Supreme Court’s ruling in Espinoza to find families who sent their children to religious schools eligible for state tuition reimbursement programs.

Your Child's Education Is Our #1 Priority And We Will Fight For Their Educational Rights

The Law Offices of Adam Dayan will continue to argue for the maximum tuition funding for our clients who attend religious special education schools. We never concede funding for religious subjects and will work with you to protect your special needs child's educational rights.

Do you have questions about your special needs child's education?

Call Special Education Attorney Adam Dayan at the Law Offices of Adam Dayan: (646) 866-7157 and request a complimentary consultation with our New York attorneys today.


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