For families looking for information on OUT-OF-DISTRICT placement (OOD), or private special education schools, for their children... the process can be very time-consuming and stressful! Not all schools focus on the same educational and behavioral needs of a child, and not all appropriate schools will be in your area. As someone who went through the process myself for both of my boys, I can assure you that the best thing you can do before making a decision on placement is RESEARCH!
Start by making a list of your child’s struggles in school, educationally and behaviorally, as well as a list of your child’s challenges at home. Sometimes, these challenges will be different, yet affect one another. Your Child Study Team may not know about the struggles at home, so it is important to communicate that to them!
Collaborate with your Child Study Team and ask them about their placement recommendations based upon the behavior and educational needs they feel are important your child. Their opinions may be different than yours… keep an open mind! They see your child in a different setting, and vice versa. Combine that list, and use it when speaking to schools you visit so they can get to know your child on all levels and give you feedback based on all the information provided.
Reach out to other parents asking about their experiences with the process. Not all experiences will be the same. Some parents are offered OOD placements (as in my case!), and others may have to convince their Districts to agree to an OOD placement, and unfortunately many have to FIGHT for an OOD placement. Regardless of your situation, do your research! Take notes, talk to everyone you can about their experiences, ask how difficult or easy it was, inquire about what important information they learned through their own process that they can pass along to you? Reach out to special education advocates for some advice!
The process is not an easy one, but fighting for an OOD placement if it is appropriate and necessary for your child it will be one of the most important things you do. It can be life-changing for your child and your family… it was in our case!
Here are some great resources that will be helpful in the process!
Alliance of Private Special Education Schools of North Jersey
ASAH Private Special Education
ASAH Member Schools
Special Education Schools in New Jersey
NICHE 2019 Best Schools
2019 Best Districts with Special Education Schools in New Jersey
Special Needs Schools in New Jersey
Private School Review
Top New Jersey Special Education Private Schools (2018-2019)
State of New Jersey – Department of Education
Approved Private Schools for Students with Disabilities