Why Schools Deny Services to Students with Disabilities

The schools may not be legally obligated to meet every need

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It understandably frustrates parents when schools deny a type of related service, assistive technology, or other piece of adaptive equipment for children with learning or physical disabilities. 

In some cases, the school or agency might not tell parents why they denied the service. This leaves caretakers of children with disabilities in the dark. Parents grow even more confused when it seems like the service they requested is a perfectly reasonable resource for the child.

Better your understanding of why schools deny services to children with this roundup of possible causes. This list may help you obtain the resources your children need.

Why Schools Deny Services

The reasons vary as to why school providers occasionally refuse to accommodate an individual's request. Often, the school provider or agency will deny requests they're not legally obligated to meet. Several other factors figure into such denials as well. For example, the provider may believe:

  • The request is a want, rather than an actual need;
  • The requested item or service is not guaranteed to be effective, or there is no solid research supporting the use of the item or service;
  • The provider believes it is already meeting the minimum legal and ethical requirements to serve the individual and view the request as beyond what's necessary.
  • The request is not related to the provider's obligations. For example, the school district may believe the requested item or service does not address an educational need because it focuses on the medical realm.
  • The need can be addressed less expensively;
  • The requested item or service is not compatible with systems already in place or it is an unnecessary duplication; or
  • The request is inappropriate.

All the reasons listed above may be valid. If the agency's understanding of the child and the request are correct, it may legitimately refuse requests for these reasons.

But sometimes providers fall short and reject a request without actual cause.  

When Providers Make Mistakes

As upsetting as this can be, in some cases providers deny a request for a service for no apparent reason. The provider might also have the wrong idea about the service and how it may benefit the child's education. In addition, providers may not fully understand the individual's disability and why the service is essential. They may not entirely recognize their legal obligations, or in rare cases, deny the service intentionally to cut back on program costs.

Recourse for Parents

Parents may feel there is nothing they can do when schools deny services to children with learning disabilities. However, parents have options at their disposal. They may consult a lawyer or their special education advocate, ask to speak with another school official about the matter or contact a supervisory agency about the school's response, such as the county or state department of education. These steps will only pay off for parents with valid reason to second guess a school's denial of their request.

If the request is more of a want than a need, parents may have to exercise alternatives.

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