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Private Schools for LD
Q: I'm trying to locate a private school for my 13-year-old son, who was finally approved for private schooling. Although I haven't received official notice yet, I've been getting phone calls from private schools asking that I come for an interview. Most of these schools are for children who are emotionally disturbed and the schools are very far from our town. How do I go about finding schools for my son who is LD -- not behavioral, hyperactive, or ADHD? He's quite shy and well-behaved, but he struggles terribly in school. I dread sending him back to his current special education class in New York City until they find an appropriate placement for him.
A: There are several resources that might be very helpful to you and the many other parents who have inquired about how to go about finding an appropriate private school for their child. The Massachusetts Association of Special Education Advisory Councils (a parent-to-parent organization for parents of students with special needs) posts, in addition to many other valuable resources, an article called "Tips on Finding an Appropriate Special Education Facility for Your Child." You should also visit the website of the National Association of Private Special Education Centers. This is the organization that put together the "Tips" article, and they have a free online referral service you can use to find information about their member schools. A listing of private schools can be found at http://privateschool.about.com/cs/cities/index.htm. Many states have an association of independent schools. The New York Association and its "school directory" can be found at www.nysais.org.
Finding an appropriate private school can be very time-consuming and difficult to do on your own. You may need some help. Many school districts have someone called the "out of district placement coordinator" (or something similar) whose job is to locate appropriate schools for students whose needs cannot adequately be met in the public school. Ask the Administrator of Special Education in your town if someone holds that title and request an appointment. You may need to contact a professional who can help you (for a fee) find an appropriate school. While you can find many "educational consultants" or "private school advisors" in the Yellow Pages, the Independent Educational Consultants Association can help you find full-time consultants who adhere to a professional code of ethics. Good luck with your search.
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Jerome (Jerry) Schultz is the founding clinical director of the Learning Lab @ Lesley University, a program that provides assessment, tutoring, and case management services for children with learning challenges. Schultz holds a Ph.D. from Boston College, and has completed postdoctoral fellowships in both clinical psychology and pediatric neuropsychology.