What is Compensatory Education?

What is compensatory education?

Compensatory education or “comp-ed” as it is often called for short, is a fund of “money” that a child can use to further their individualized education program (IEP) goals. Comp-ed is not cash, but can be used as a cash equivalent for educational items and services. While the permissible uses of comp-ed can vary depending on the specific agreement you have with your school, here are some of the generally permissible uses:

  • tutoring
  • therapeutic summer camps
  • technology that furthers the IEP
  • evaluations

Why do we use compensatory education?

Comp-ed is used as a way to make students whole for past educational deprivations. Rather than “cash” that would typically change hands in a civil suit for personal injuries, when educational injuries or deprivations are proven, compensatory education is the appropriate remedy.

Here are some of the items that you can generally not purchase with compensatory education:

  • Wiis / Other gaming systems
  • Vacations
  • College Tuition
  • Vehicles

Compensatory Education funds generally last until a child is 21 years old and any value remaining in the fund reverts back to the school district or party that funded the trust.

How is compensatory education valued?

Compensatory education can be valued in one of two ways:

  1. Qualitative Approach – a qualitative approach to valuing compensatory education would require the finder of fact to ask what it would cost to replicate the quality of education that was lost or deprived of the student. This is a somewhat hard determination to make and that’s why courts generally use a ..
  2. Quantitative Approach – a quantitative approach to compensatory education asks how many hours of educational serves did a child miss and what was the value per hour of those services. So, for instance, if a child was to have speech services for 3 hours per week for an entire school year, but the school failed to provide those speech services, the child would be entitled to 108 hours of compensatory education (36 weeks multiplied by 3 hours per week). From there we have to put a dollar value on the lost speech services. Generally, the average rate in the community would be used, but hearing officers or judges can apply a specific hourly rate. If it is determined that the hourly rate of the speech services would have been $100/hour, the student would be entitled to a fund of $10,800.00 that could be used to supplement future speech services.

Compensatory education is used to supplement future services, not “supplant” services that a District has to provide anyway. That is to say that a school can not force a parent to use the compensatory education that was awarded due to a denial of past education benefits to fund future services that a child requires as part of their Individualized Education Program (IEP) moving forward.

If you think that your child may be entitled to compensatory education, it would be wise to consult with an education attorney. We are standing by to offer free consultations. Please call 888-9595-LAW (529) or email us contact@ed-law.com

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