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Moving Forward: Beyond Public Funding

Public Funding for a Carroll School Education

It is still possible to pursue and acquire public funding from local cities and towns for a child to attend Carroll School after the 2017-2018 school year. Families continue to have rights to a free and appropriate education (FAPE) for their children under Massachusetts and federal law. Cities and towns are required by law to provide FAPE for a child with dyslexia. Although Carroll School decided that 2017-2018 would be our final year as an approved Chapter 766 private school program, Carroll will continue to be a fully approved independent school, our mission to educate children with dyslexia will not change, and the federal and state special education laws mandating FAPE have not changed. Carroll may present the most appropriate school available to educate a child with dyslexia.

Placement and Funding: Municipalities must collaborate with families on the placement decision for any student in need of specialized educational services as part of the individualized education plan (IEP) process. School districts are required by law to investigate all possible appropriate educational placements for a student based on the child’s individual needs. This includes unapproved special education programs (such as Carroll after next school year) depending on the specific individual needs of the child. A private school special education program that does not seek special education approval from the Department of Elementary and Special Education (DESE) is one that meets high programmatic standards, yet is not subject to state regulatory controls. Carroll will continue to provide an educational program of the highest caliber consistent with its educational mission.

Placement and funding of a child at a private school special education program (that has not sought DESE special education approval) is permitted, and perhaps required, where placement within the school district or at an approved out-of-district private school special education program will not serve the specific needs of a child. Cities and towns may fund placement of a child at such a school or program. Additionally, although the law states that funding should be an all-or-nothing proposition, many cities and towns historically enter into arrangements with families to support financially their chosen out-of- district schools. A municipality in collaboration with a family may determine that funding a Carroll education is the most appropriate and practical solution.

How to proceed?  A family first proceeds with developing an IEP to determine and document the level of required individualized supports and services required for a specific child with dyslexia. The child’s needs must be identified before a placement decision is made. Once it is determined that a child’s needs cannot be met within the public school system, the IEP team must investigate and present to a family out-of- district placement options. The law “ranks” educational placement options from the least restrictive to the most restrictive as follows: (a) in-district placement, (b) out-of-district placement at an in-state approved private school, (c) out-of-district placement at an approved private school located outside of Massachusetts, and (d) out-of-district placement at an unapproved private school program. When an out-of-district placement is identified by the IEP team, the determination shall ensure that the student’s placement is as close as possible to the student’s home. The school district shall, in all circumstances, first seek to place a student in a program approved by the state. However, if the IEP team is unable to identify an approved school, the municipality may request assistance from the state with placement at an unapproved private school program.

At this stage, the family can advocate for a placement at Carroll as the most effective and least restrictive educational setting available to meet the child’s stated IEP goals and objectives. The school district may concur, and agree to fund the placement at Carroll. Alternatively, through discussions, the school district and the family may reach an agreement concerning funding to avoid a further dispute about placement. Often, Carroll will present the most effective solution in terms of both educational services and cost for the school district and the family.

Finally, Carroll acknowledges that families are routinely frustrated by the IEP process which can be stressful, slow, and unsatisfactory. As a result, Carroll has more than doubled its annual financial aid assistance to families based on documented need. Although public funding of Carroll tuition may be available or required by law, it may also be possible to gain financial support for a Carroll tuition through our financial aid resources.

Questions? Please contact Carroll School’s admission office at 781-259- 8342 for additional information.

Frequently Asked Questions about Public versus Private Funding at Carroll School

Q: I’ve heard that Carroll no longer accepts public funding directly from school districts.  Is that true?

A: No, we are still accepting agreements and payment for out-of-district placements.  We will maintain this arrangement until the start of the 2018-2019 school year.

Q: Does this decision make it harder for students to be admitted to Carroll?

A: No, this change will allow families to pursue admission to Carroll directly through our Admissions office, without the need for an advocate or an attorney. Every family will go through the same application, admittance, and enrollment process.

Q: Why did Carroll make this decision?

A: Carroll School is a leader in educating bright students with language-based learning disabilities, and we provide an exemplary level of customized instruction for smart students who are struggling with reading and/or writing. In order to receive public funds, schools are required to adhere to many state mandated regulations that do not apply to the education of our specific student profile and that may sometimes even interfere with best practices for educating our students.

Q: Does Carroll offer financial aid?

A: We do offer financial aid, and we generally meet on average 80-90% of demonstrated need for families who apply for assistance.  In the last three years, our financial aid budget has doubled as we work to meet a higher percentage of demonstrated need for a larger number of families. Institutionally, we are committed to increasing our financial aid budget in the coming years.

Q: How do I apply for financial aid?

A: We have detailed instructions on our website: https://www.carrollschool.org/admissions/tuition-fees/financial-aid-process

You can also email or call the Admissions Office: admissions@carrollschool.org or (781) 259-8342 with any further questions about the process or tuition.

Q: Does public funding support economic diversity at Carroll?

A: The process of securing funding from one’s home district can be a long, expensive, and exhausting process for families, and often requires the hiring of an educational advocate and/or special education attorney. We believe that our financial aid process is the most equitable way to support families who qualify for financial assistance, and the process allows us to create a level playing field for families at all income levels.

Q: How will this improve the education a child receives at Carroll?

A: This transition will give Carroll the ability to adjust our curriculum to better fit the individual needs of our students.  We will be able to serve our students in a more efficient and flexible way by making the best use of our physical, human, and financial resources.