If a party is deciding whether or not to sue a public or private school, there is an important distinction which must be considered prior to filing the suit. Unlike public schools, which are generally treated as government institutions and are subject to constitutional, substantive and procedural protection, private schools and the relationship with their students are often governed by contracts. This is an important distinction, because if you decide to sue a public school, State and/or Federal law will apply, however, should you engage in a law suit with a private school, the terms of the specific contract will control the relationship.

Because a private school is not considered part of the local or state government, they do not have the same legal responsibilities to students who suffer from disabilities, such as a student with an Individual Education Program (IEP). Instead, in such circumstance where a student may require an IEP with a private school, this educational plan will be governed by the contractual relationship between the school and its student unless the school receives a certain amount of public funding. This obviously differs from a public school, which is subject to State regulations and applicable federal laws which govern its responsibilities to a student who has an IEP.

As such, it is important to be both familiar with the laws that govern an IEP with regard to a public school, and if there is a dispute with a private school, the party should be well versed in interpreting the contractual terms and how they affect the relationship. It is for these reasons that if there is a dispute with a private or public school concerning a special needs student, it is suggested that the party consult with an attorney or a professional who has knowledge with regard to reviewing the contractual relationship with a private school or to review the applicable laws which govern the public school.