Compensatory Education for Students with IEPs

What is compensatory education?

Students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are entitled to Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). If a school district fails to provide a student with FAPE, and the parent files a due process complaint, one remedy is compensatory education. Compensatory education is money that families can use to pay for educational services such as tutoring and therapies. The purpose of compensatory education is to place the student in the same position he or she would have been in if the District had provided FAPE.

How we help Philadelphia students access compensatory education

Despite the purpose of compensatory education, families in the School District of Philadelphia (the District) often have difficult accessing and utilizing the money. The Law Center is representing a former student and his mother in negotiations with the District regarding compensatory education funds awarded in 2013.

The student is a young man with autism who remained in the District until age 21. Throughout his time in the District, the Law Center represented the student and his mother in due process hearings including a hearing in 2013 after which the hearing officer awarded student compensatory education. The hearing officer’s decision did not include a date by which any unused funds would return to the District.

The Law Center is currently advocating on behalf of the student and his mother with the District in order to ensure the student’s continued use of his compensatory education funds.  The student will use the funds to continue academic tutoring and to utilize a job coach to help him gain and maintain employment alongside people without disabilities.

Compensatory Education during COVID-19

Families of children with IEPs should also be aware of COVID Compensatory Services (CCS).  The purpose of CCS is to help students with IEPs who either failed to make progress or lost skills due to school building closures beginning in March of 2020 regain those skills.  To find out more about CCS, read the Frequently Asked Questions from the Pennsylvania Dept. of Education or contact Law Center staff attorney Darlene Hemerka at (267) 546-1314 or email