Question:

This question was not addressed in Alyson Stover’s IDEA course. With OT as a related service, what are the legal requirements related to IDEA for students outside the public school system (e.g., private schools and home-bound and home-schooled students)? In general, my district has always done OT consultation in these situations to support the teachers/parents involved. Our home-bound consultations are handled a little differently. Any advice?

Gwen’s Answer:

Thanks for your question! Since this is Alyson’s area of expertise, I referred it to her.

Alyson’s Answer:

IDEA only applies to public schools and schools that receive state and federal funding. Therefore, traditional private schools, which do not receive any funding from the state or federal government, are not bound by anything in the IDEA.

HOWEVER, if a public school district has chosen to send one of their students to a private school and cover the cost of tuition (because the public schools district has determined they cannot meet the needs of the student in their home district), then the PUBLIC SCHOOL must pay for any occupational therapy services that the IEP team has determined are necessary for FAPE.  Here are some examples:

  • If you provide direct intervention on a weekly basis, the home public school district must cover that cost.
  • If you recommend materials/equipment, the home public school district is required to provide that to the private school for the student’s use.

IDEA rules cover home-bound and home-schooled students as if they were attending public schools in a traditional manner. The school must provide for and pay for any and all services that the IEP team has determined are necessary for FAPE. That means that if direct OT intervention is necessary to achieve FAPE for that student, it must be provided. Some home school curriculums, like cyber schools, have rules that these types of services must be performed at a location outside of the home, but often they are all provided in the home.

Let me know if you need further clarification!

Best wishes!
Alyson Stover, MOT, JD, OTR/L, BCPP