Did You Know?

Your local public school must consider a referral about a student regardless if they are enrolled in their school.

Evaluations for Special Education services are offered by public schools whether your student is fully enrolled or not at no cost to you. The process is the same as if they were enrolled. If you have concerns about how your child is developing or currently functioning academically, you can refer your child via a parent referral. Simply contact the special education lead at your child's home campus to get more information. They do not have to guarantee an evaluation based solely on your call, but they should document your concerns and determine if a full individual evaluation (FIE) is warranted based on parent feedback, work samples, standardized testing, teacher feedback, and other criteria.

Once an FIE determines the best course of action, the process starts. There is no cost to you as the parent/guardian/caregiver. If the FIE determines criteria for eligibility in special education has been met, a therapeutic plan is developed and proposed. Depending on the type of therapies being recommended, the school may or may not offer those services regardless of enrollment (i.e., speech language therapy is a service that can be offered to students who are not enrolled, but dyslexia therapy traditionally is not offered). Please note: many services provided through special education cannot be efficiently offered to students who are not fully enrolled.

Regardless of enrollment, an FIE report is presented and the findings are discussed at an ARD (Admission, Review, and Dismissal) committee meeting. It is your decision, as the parent/guardian, to accept or reject the offerings of the committee. The FIE is yours, however, and you can use that information to further learn about your child and adapt his/her academic structure to ensure success. See the Advisory Services pages to see what services Equip Speech has to offer in support of this endeavor.

Analyzing the Pros and Cons of Public School Services Versus Private Services

public school


  • Multi-disiplinary approach that contributes to strong collaboration

  • Therapy easily integrated into academics

  • No cost to the client

  • Access to resources (depending on district)

  • Strong accountability within the structure of the systems in place


  • Limited by the rigid structure of the ARD process

  • Large caseloads often dictate higher SLP to student ratio during therapy sessions

  • Eligibility is limited by state and district requirements

  • Significant committee oversite that can interfere with the fluidity of therapeutic decisions at times



  • Highly individualized, with the option of 1:1 or small group therapy

  • Eligibility based on evaluation and functional need (not limited to rigid criteria)

  • Flexible timelines, fluid goals, therapeutic autonomy

  • Increased flexibiliy in scheduling


  • Limited collaboration with other disciplines (depending on the clinical setting)

  • Limited academic integration (traditionally)

  • Significant cost to client (unless clinic accepts insurance)

When is it time to reach out to Equip Speech for private therapy?

Determining to pursue private therapy should come after serious consideration of what your child needs. Each child is different, so there are no absolutes when it comes to why or why not.

Some considerations may be:

  • Additional Services. Sometimes a child just needs a little more time to focus on their skills. Parents may choose to enroll their child in private therapy sessions during the week in addition to the services already being provided by the public school SLP. Introducing these two service providers will help ensure that therapy is working in conjunction with one another and not fighting against each other.

  • Avoid Interruption to the Academic Day. In most public school settings, therapy sessions are required to take place during non-core classes (i.e., electives such as media, theatre, choir, art, etc.). In order to eliminate this disruption, either for academic or social reasons, parents may opt to deny services offered at school and enroll in private sessions instead.

  • Setting. Depending on the needs of the student and wherein their weakness(es) lie, he/she may perform better in one setting over the other. If they are functioning successfully in the public school system, it may not be worth the transition time and effort to attend private therapy. Or vice versa, the setting at school may not be affording him/her the best avenue for growth, showing limited progress, and therefore, requires a different setting for therapy.

  • Collaboration & Parental Involvement. When a parent feels disconnected from their student's therapeutic plan, they may find more opportunity to voice their opinion or provide feedback in private therapy. Additionally, at Equip Speech, they will find avenues for growth and collaboration in the Advisory Services that are offered.