December 15


Public vs. Private Schools: How Do Academic Accommodations Work?

By NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

December 15, 2023

504 plan, academic accommodations, ada, comparison, guide, iep, private school, public school

Considering different school accommodations is key for students with diverse learning needs. If your child has learning or thinking difficulties, physical challenges, or specific educational requirements, they can benefit from tailored education. When you’re deciding between private schools versus public schools, there are quite a few differences to consider.

Public schools are required to provide accommodations under federal laws, such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and your child will receive an Individualized Education Program (IEP) tailored to their needs. You may wonder if private schools are required to provide accommodations. While they aren’t required to do this by law, some private schools may choose to offer special education. There are pros and cons to both public and private schools. Understanding the differences is key, as it can help you find the best school for a child needing specialized support.

Accommodations in Public School vs. Private Schools

Regarding special education rights in private schools, the approach to serving children with special needs can differ from that in public schools in several ways. Here are the main differences:

Private School Public School
Exempt from most federal and state laws. As independent institutions, private schools operate with a level of autonomy distinct from public schools. Established and operated by local government authorities, public schools are run according to federal and state laws. These laws dictate the structure, funding, curriculum, and operations of public schools.
Not required to follow the principles of IDEA, which governs the provision of special education and related services for eligible students with disabilities. Follows the principles of IDEA, which ensures special education and related services for eligible students with disabilities or conditions, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Not subject to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Follows federal laws, such as ESEA, which outlines federal funding and accountability measures to improve educational opportunities for disadvantaged students.
Generally requires tuition, which might limit access for some families. However, they might offer smaller class sizes and more individualized attention. Funded by taxpayers and does not charge tuition, making them more accessible to families regardless of income.
Some specialize in certain learning differences or educational philosophies, providing tailored approaches. Offers a range of services, accommodations, and therapies for children with various difficulties.
Might have selective admission criteria, potentially excluding children with certain difficulties. Often has diverse student populations, which can provide valuable opportunities for social interaction and inclusion.
Mandated to meet some, but not all, of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, provided the school has received state funding. Meets Section 504 of civil rights law and is mandated to provide special education services under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Offers a flexible curriculum and programs, allowing for innovative teaching methods or specialized therapies. Has specialized programs, trained staff, and access to resources designed to support students with a wide range of difficulties.
Has smaller class sizes to facilitate more individualized attention and support for students with difficulties. Children with difficulties might find it challenging to adapt or receive individualized instruction in more diverse classroom settings.
Parents can request an evaluation from the public school district. Before initiating the evaluation, the public school will consult and collaborate with your child’s private school. Parents and educators can request academic evaluations. The school creates an academic plan based on the results of the evaluation.
Offers a goal-centered approach that involves setting specific objectives or milestones for a child’s development and well-being. Works with the child to teach valuable skills and coping mechanisms to help improve the child’s behavior.
Offers certain informal accommodation plans within private school settings that do not adhere to the structure of an IEP or 504 Plan. Offers certain informal accommodation plans within public school settings that do not adhere to the structure of an IEP or 504 Plan.
Outlines parenting goals and assists in devising a plan to achieve these goals. Teaches parenting skills through recorded or live parenting situations with a therapist.
Not required to teach every student. Students with academic or behavioral difficulties can be dismissed. Mandated to teach your child until age 21 or until they graduate, regardless of difficulties.
Not mandated to comply with the minimum standards of education law. Certain institutions cater specifically to students with ADHD or learning disabilities. Required to adhere to the basic services outlined in education law. Certain school districts may surpass these minimum requirements.

Be an Advocate for Your Child

Boy in green sweater writing on white paper at school
Image by CDC  is licensed with Unsplash License

As a parent, you play a pivotal role in ensuring your child receives the support and resources they need. This helps them succeed academically. Advocating for your child involves actively engaging with the school. Collaborate with teachers and support staff to find the right solution for your child. You will need to be a clear communicator. Emphasize your child’s strengths, challenges, and any accommodations or interventions they may need.

Work closely with your child’s school to develop an IEP or a 504 Plan that manages your child’s unique needs. This ensures that your child has equal access to education. This not only benefits your child; it can also create a more inclusive and supportive school system for all students with special needs.

When To Find an Advocate

In cases that require escalation or an appeal, seeking the services of a legal advocate is essential. This is particularly important when you need to address your concerns through legal action, such as a hearing. An advocate helps you work with the school to create a tailored academic plan for your child. They also offer support during IEP or 504 Plan meetings.

Need Support? Contact Our Experts at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

The vast majority of schools and teachers have the best intentions. However, not all have the resources they need to serve a child with physical or mental challenges. If your child requires tailored support, consider reaching out to professionals at NeuroHealth Arlington Heights. Our experts are dedicated to understanding your child’s unique needs. We can make a significant difference in your child’s level of education. Working closely with parents and schools, we ensure children receive the accommodations they need for academic success and their overall well-being. Contact NeuroHealth today to explore how we can support you and your child today.

NeuroHealth Arlington Heights

About the author

For over 20 years, NeuroHealth Arlington Heights has been offering neuropsychological and psychological assessments and treatments for people of all ages. These assessments and treatments address Behavioral, Emotional, & Social Issues, Neurocognitive Functions, and Neurodevelopmental Growth.