Parental satisfaction with special education programming and reasons parents choose out -of -district placement rather than public programs

Erin Servillo, University of Pennsylvania


Students with disabilities are an integral part of our educational community. All students must receive a free and appropriate public education according to provisions delineated by federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Parents face many decisions for their children with disabilities in determining appropriate educational programming suited to the individual needs of their child. Options for students with disabilities exist on a spectrum from least restrictive to most restrictive. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act requires districts to consider the least restrictive placement when designing a program. However, in determining what is appropriate for their child, parents may look outside the school district for suitable programs. This study focused on the following research questions: How do parents perceive special education programming in district and out-of-district? What needs do parents perceive in current district programming? What leads some parents/families to choose private schools for students with disabilities over public programming? What information do parents/families use to make these decisions about special education programs? The study examined the reasons parents use when deciding to remove a child from district schools and place them in out-of-district schools that are more restrictive in nature. While parental demand for inclusive settings has been well documented, there is little literature on the request of parents to place their child in a more restrictive setting, that is, an approved private school serving only students with disabilities. Results revealed personal relationships with school staff were instrumental in parents' satisfaction with district programming. When parents feel their perceived needs are being met by the school district, they are more willing to work collaboratively with the district in problem solving prior to requesting a removal to an approved school for students with disabilities. Findings also indicated parent needs for social skills instruction for their children with disabilities and illuminated implications for the school district in professional staff training in areas including social skills, behavior modification and instructional strategy use. Implications are significant to public school districts searching for ways to keep students with disabilities in district and in the least restrictive environment for education.

Subject Area

School administration|Special education|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Servillo, Erin, "Parental satisfaction with special education programming and reasons parents choose out -of -district placement rather than public programs" (2008). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3310473.