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November 1, 2005

Parish Quickly Changes Position on Special Needs

A member family in West Monroe received a copy of a letter from Ouachita Parish Special Educational Services. The letter was addressed to all public school speech therapists in the parish, and stated that “Homeschooled students are not eligible to receive any services from the school system, except evaluation and identification.” It further stated that all services to homeschooled students “will cease immediately.”

After the HSLDA member faxed the letter to us we contacted the school district in order to discover the source of this new policy. Once contacted by HSLDA the public school official called the state’s attorney and was informed that his letter was not accurate.

Under Louisiana law no private school student with a disability has an individual right to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the student would receive if he or she were enrolled in a public school. Instead, private school students may be eligible for special education services if they are evaluated by the local parish and are deemed to be eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Decisions about the services that will be provided to private school students with disabilities shall be made in accordance with the consultative and service plan requirements listed in Louisiana Administrative Code § 28:462.

After being contacted by HSLDA, and consulting with the State, the Ouachita Parish school official apologized profusely for their mistaken letter. The official agreed to send a letter of retraction to the district.