It appears that at least one group of students in California get a school choice program: Those with irritating but legally savvy parents willing to exploit special education programs (Hat tip to Overlawyered)
In Sonoma County, for example, a family recently enrolled its child in an
out-of-state boarding school, then billed its district not only for tuition,
but airfare, car rental, hotel, cell phone calls, meals, tailoring, new
clothes, an iBook computer, stamps, tolls, gas and 13 future round-trip visits.
Total tab: $67,949.
How? By having their child declared a special ed student and then shamelessly exploiting the legal process to force such settlements
Since 1993, the number of students in public special ed programs rose 27
percent, to 681,969 from 539,073. But special ed students placed in private
schools at public expense rose nearly five times faster -- 128 percent, to
15,926 from 6,994....
Gross described the law's
myriad requirements as "150 points of potential mistakes" for school districts.
Missing even one step can cause a district to lose its case if a
hearing officer finds that a student's education suffered as a result.
"There isn't an attorney who can't find us making a mistake on one of
those things," Gross said.
So who is qualifying as "learning disabled"? I bet you aren't thinking of this boy, who got special education funding from the state to go to a private boarding school:
"He was not offered the classes that I thought he needed," the mother
said. "If my son didn't get what he needed, my fear was that he would drop out
She acknowledged he had never been a discipline problem. The hearing
records describe him as a "young adult who is likable, friendly, energetic and
highly motivated. He is physically active, plays lacrosse and soccer, and
enjoys wakeboarding and snowboarding."
"He's a model child," she said. "However, his frustration and anxiety were
so high that I could see that this is the type of person who, out of
frustration, turns to drugs or something that he shouldn't be doing."
And, uh, what learning disability does this describe, except perhaps the general category of "teenage boy?" This is a clear case of the most irritating parents with the most aggressive lawyers getting over on the rest of us. Read it all. My guess is that most everyone will be irritated, perhaps most of all those with a child with a true learning disability that really needs special help. And make sure not to miss the state funded "dolphin therapy". (Update: Last year we spent a fortune for our kids to swim with the dolphins in Hawaii. Do you think I can charge that back to my local school district?)