§ 16-24-1 Duty of school committee to provide special education.
(a) In any city or town where there is a child with a disability within the age range as designated by the regulations of the state board of regents for elementary and secondary education, who is functionally limited to such an extent that normal educational growth and development is prevented, the school committee of the city or town where the child resides shall provide the type of special education that will best satisfy the needs of the child with a disability, as recommended and approved by the state board of regents for elementary and secondary education in accordance with its regulations governing the education of children with disabilities.
(b) Notwithstanding any other federal or state law or regulation, the school committee where a parentally placed child who has, or develops, a disability in private school resides, shall provide the child with the same free and appropriate education as it provides to children in public schools. These children shall have the same rights and remedies in the regulations of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education governing the education of children with disabilities as children in public school relative to initially determining eligibility, implementation, and/or any other rights and remedies relative to any special education services the child may be eligible or receive from the public school district.
(c) For the purpose of this statute, a parentally placed child who has, or develops, a disability in private school is defined as a child enrolled or placed in a private school by the unilateral decision of his or her parents and without consolation of the public school district, who either has, or at some point while at the private school is diagnosed with, a learning disability. Parents who unilaterally enroll their child in a private school are required to pay the tuition costs related to the child's education that are unrelated to the child's disability, and the public school district where the child resides is responsible for payment of the services related to the child's disability as developed and determined in the child's individual education plan.
(d) For the purpose of this statute, a free and appropriate education is defined as special education services and related services that:
(1) Are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge;
(2) Meet all of the standards and requirements of the state of Rhode Island department of education and requirements of the regulations of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education governing the education of children with disabilities, which shall include initial evaluation and determination procedures;
(3) Include preschool, elementary school or secondary school education in the state; and
(4) Are provided in conformity with an individualized education program that meets the requirements of the regulations of the board of regents for elementary and secondary education governing the education of children with disabilities.
(e) In those cases that an individual education plan has been adopted for a child and the child moves to another town or city, the plan shall remain in effect until a new plan is adopted for the child in the new town or city.
(f) A child with a disability as referenced in subsection (a) of this section shall have available to them any benefits provided by this section up to their twenty-first birthday. Provided, in the event such a child with a disability is enrolled in a post-secondary or transitional educational program as part of the services provided to the child by the school committee or local education agency (LEA), and such child reaches twenty-one (21) years of age during a school or program year, then the school committee's or LEA's obligation to pay for the post-secondary or transitional program shall continue through to the conclusion of the school or program's academic year. Students who require more extensive care will remain under the direction of the department of rehabilitative services and will be transitioned through the individual education plan prior to reaching age twenty-one (21).
(P.L. 1952, ch. 2905, § 1; P.L. 1954, ch. 3368, § 1; G.L. 1956, § 16-24-1; P.L. 1996, ch. 238, § 1; P.L. 1999, ch. 83, § 26; P.L. 1999, ch. 130, § 26; P.L. 2008, ch. 141, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 166, § 1; P.L. 2013, ch. 501, § 38; P.L. 2016, ch. 173, § 1; P.L. 2016, ch. 185, § 1.)