The U.S. Department of Education has found that some public school districts across Massachusetts have violated federal law for years by denying services to special education students who attend Catholic, Jewish or other private schools.

Richard and Roberta Canastra of Dartmouth say they have experienced the situation first-hand with their daughter Noella, who attends the St. Francis Xavier School in Acushnet.

Roberta Canastra, speaking Friday on the Chris McCarthy program on WBSM, said the Dartmouth School system is offering math tutoring services to their daughter, but in Dartmouth, outside Noella's normal education setting

"It's during her school day but there was no transportation offered, so it really doesn't make sense to offer those services if she can't get to them," he said.

The Canastras would rather see the tutoring take place after school.

Talks with Dartmouth are currently at a stalemate. Richard Canastra says this school year has been particularly frustrating.

"Noella's Individual Education Plan has been extended, but she's getting no tutoring, nothing, for the past six or seven weeks because we're going back and forth with the Dartmouth School system," he said.

The Canastras say they've been forced to go to mediation every year with the school district to get the services they want for their daughter. Their advice on dealing with school districts: bring along a trained advocate familiar with special education laws.

According to the Boston Globe, complaints have been made against 27 school districts in Massachusetts, including New Bedford. The paper says school districts in Massachusetts could end up owing private schools millions of dollars for the services they failed to provide over the past five years.

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