But we don’t call them that. We wouldn’t dare. To do so would be a cardinal sin. So what are these already existing school voucher programs going on all over Delaware?
It is called a special education lawsuit. Parent feels school isn’t providing special education through a denial of an IEP or not following the accommodations within the existing IEP. Some feel attorneys just jump on this and appear out of the woodwork. They feel they are sharks just waiting to feed on the bleeding carcass that just happens to appear in that exact position in the vast ocean. This is far from the case.
By the time parents even know there are special education attorneys out there, several things have most likely happened already. Conflicts ensue, communication slowly dwindles, and bad feelings begin to surface. While all that is going on, the student most likely suffers some more because of a lack of special education.
No school district or charter school really wants to go to a due process hearing. So they offer to settle. These mediations are very hush-hush and no one is the wiser. You can find some of them on Delaware Online Checkbook if you look hard enough, but that isn’t a guarantee. The big question is this: out of all the settlements in Delaware over the past five to six years, how many parents have kept their child in the same district or charter? Have any taken their child to a private school? If so, and if they used the funds from that settlement, that is a glorified, bona-fide school voucher. The money follows the student. While this could work out for the student, there is no guarantee the private school will follow an IEP much less provide special education services. I strongly encourage parents to do this research themselves. Some parents may choose to homeschool their child after a lawsuit or things went bad with a school. What do you think pays for textbooks and supplies? The lawsuit.
I am not encouraging parents to read this and think “Oh, a get rich scheme.” First off, the funds from any special education lawsuit settlement would most likely be put into a trust that can ONLY be used for something that will provide educational benefit to the child. A trip to Disney is NOT an educational benefit. Trusts can be done a couple of ways. It can be independent, meaning an outside agency holds the trust and they approve any requests. Or, both the parent and the school or district that was sued have to mutually agree on the funds the parent requests.
I believe this is a really sucky way for any child to get further along in special education. Bad things happen that result in these. I believe there is merit in special education attorneys. I believe there is greater merit in special education law firms holding workshops on special education. I know many parents who have found out things about special education law through those very same workshops. Let’s be real here, it’s not like any school is going to tell parents every single special education law. And the Procedural Safeguards pamphlet parents get just scratches the surface. I like Wrightslaw as a source.
I don’t believe in vouchers for all. I think in some very extenuating circumstances, such as special education lawsuits, it could be warranted. But like I said, there is a mountain of crap that all parties have to go through to get to that point. I think all involved, in hindsight, would prefer things went differently. There are some idiots out there who think not providing the services is cheaper for the school in the long run so they settle if they know the students has or will be leaving the school. It will only bounce back later and cost them more. How? Because ANY school that has that mantra should be shut down forever! You are costing the entire state more. Chances are good that the more pains in the ass a special needs student goes through, the more it will cost that person in the years going forward. Counseling. Therapy. Lawsuits. And when they become an adult? Those costs can skyrocket. So one ten year old kid at one school can end of costing the state a lot more money in the long run. But go ahead, be selfish. Do what is best for your school.