The problem with that really good school that only serves students with disabilities…..

In a case from Virginia, the parent sought three years of private school tuition.  The student had been attending the Lab School which focused exclusively on students with learning disabilities. I am guessing the Lab School is a very good school, but in the litigation the parent learned the hard lesson—being a really good school is not enough to justify tuition reimbursement from the public school. 

The court denied the request for tuition reimbursement because the public school offered FAPE in a less restrictive environment, and thus, the parent was not entitled to reimbursement.  The court noted that the student did receive benefit from the private school, but that alone did not entitle the parent to reimbursement.

The IDEA requires that students be offered as much mainstream education as possible. Accordingly, as long as [the public school] offered [the student] a FAPE for the school years at issue, the Lab School cannot qualify as the “least restrictive environment” mandated by the IDEA because it does not provide [the student] access to her neurotypical peers.

This case is typical. It’s very difficult for a parent to justify reimbursement for a private school, no matter how good the school is, when the school serves only students with disabilities.

It’s A.P. v. School Board of Fairfax County, 80 IDELR 277 (E.D. Va. 2022).


Got a question or comment for the Dawg?  Let me hear from you at

Tomorrow: change of pace…