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OII: Office of Innovation and Improvement
   Current Section

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 1997/Services to Parentally Placed Private School Students with Disabilities
Revised October 2001
U.S. Department of Education/
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services/
Office of Special Education Programs


Introduction

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 requires every state to have in effect policies and procedures to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for all students with disabilities. School districts have obligations to parentally placed private school students with disabilities under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA Part B). IDEA Part B can provide benefits to students with disabilities who are placed by their parents in private schools. At the same time, it does not impose requirements on private schools. Documents referred to below are all on the ONPE web page as well as at the specific Web addresses included for each document.

IDEA was reauthorized in 1997, and the U.S. Department of Education issued final regulations in March 1999 [http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/reg/regulations.html]. Significant changes for parentally placed private school students with disabilities include the following which are discussed in more depth below:

  • Consultation: local educational agencies (LEAs) are now required to consult with private school officials prior to conducting child find activities (see below for definition) in private schools;
  • No individual entitlement to services: school districts must provide parentally placed private school students with disabilities residing within their district a genuine opportunity for equitable participation in their special education program.
  • Services plan: Any parentally placed private school student with a disability whom an LEA elects to serve must have a services plan that, to the extent appropriate, meets the content requirements for Individual Education Programs (IEPs) and is developed, reviewed, and revised consistent with the IEP process requirements (Content of IEP: http://www.cec.sped.org/law_res/doc/law/regulations/ glossaryIndex.php).

Guidance on providing services to parentally placed private school students under IDEA was issued in May 2000 by the Office of Special Education Programs, in consultation with the Office of Non-Public Education and some of their constituent organizations. This guidance is available at http://www.nichcy.org/private.htm.

Following is a summary of the key points of that guidance.

Consultation

By law, school districts are required to consult with appropriate representatives of parentally placed private school students with disabilities throughout the various phases of the development and design of the school district's special education program for these students under Part B of IDEA.  This consultation must be both "timely and meaningful."  Consultation includes discussions on how to conduct the child find count and determining how the students' needs will be identified, which students with disabilities will receive services, what services will be offered, how and where the services will be provided, and how the services will be assessed. Consultation takes place in light of the federal funding available, the number of private school students with disabilities, the location of private school students with disabilities, and the needs of private school students with disabilities.   The LEA must provide a "genuine opportunity" for appropriate representatives of private school students to express their views on each of these matters.

Child Find

Under the child find requirement, state educational agencies (SEAs) and LEAs are obligated to locate, identify, and evaluate all children residing in the state who are suspected of having a disability under Part B of IDEA, so that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) can be made available to all eligible children. Activities undertaken to carry out child find for parentally placed private school students must be comparable to activities undertaken for child find for students in public schools. In determining how and when to carry out child find, LEAs must consult with appropriate representatives of parentally placed private school students with disabilities.

Following the initial evaluation, an eligibility determination must be made by a group of qualified professionals and the child's parents, and this group must determine whether the child has a disability as defined in Part B. If a determination is made that the child needs special education and related services, the school district must develop an individualized education program (IEP) for the child, unless the parents make clear their intention to enroll their child at a private school and that they are not interested in a public program or placement for their child. (See Services Plan, below.)

The costs of child find for parentally placed private school students with disabilities cannot be considered in determining the federal share of IDEA funds that must be used to serve private school students. The child find obligations, including individual evaluations and three-year re-evaluations, exist independently from the services provisions under IDEA. These obligations may not be considered in determining whether an LEA has met the annual expenditure requirement for services for parentally placed private school students with disabilities.

Annual Expenditures

The amount that must be annually expended for services to parentally placed private school students with disabilities is calculated on a proportionate share basis. The formula is created from the total number of students with disabilities residing in the LEA's jurisdiction who are eligible to receive special education and related services under Part B as compared with the total number of eligible parentally placed private school students with disabilities residing in the LEA's jurisdiction. The proportionate share is determined based on the total number of eligible parentally placed private school students with disabilities residing within the LEA's jurisdiction and is not limited to the number of those students receiving special education or related services in accordance with a services plan.

Although school districts are not required under federal law to use state and local funds in meeting their obligations to parentally placed private school students with disabilities under Part B, they may expend their own funds to provide additional services to parentally placed private school students with disabilities.

Formula for Calculating Proportionate Share:

Total Proportionate Share For Private School Children =      X  divided by Total Flow-Through Allocation Total divided by  (Eligible Private School Children divided by Eligible Public & Private School Children)


Note: Proportionate share for parentally placed private school children is based on total children eligible, not children served. The symbol (:) means "divided by."

Example:
For School District A:

Number of eligible children in public schools is 300 and the number of eligible children in private schools is 20, then the total number of eligible children is 320

School District A Obligation:

If X is divided by a Flow-Through Allocation Total of 152,000, and this is divided by  (20 Eligible Private School Children divided by         320 Eligible Public & Private School Children), then School District A's obligation is 9,531.25 dollars.
(This amount must be spent for the group of parentally placed children in private schools.)

Provision of Services

While school districts have an obligation to ensure the equitable participation of parentally placed private school students with disabilities in programs assisted or carried out under Part B, the law and regulations specify that parentally placed private school students with disabilities do not have individual entitlements to special education or related services. However, the statute and regulations in no way prohibit states or local school districts from providing services to parentally placed private school children with disabilities in excess of those required under Part B, consistent with state law or local policy.

Through the consultation process mentioned above and in light of at least the amount of Part B funds the school district must spend in providing services to parentally placed private school students with disabilities, the school district and private school officials design the special education program for those students who have been identified to receive services. Within these parameters, school districts have broad discretion in providing special education services to specific students. Examples of services that could be provided include: speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, reading or math lab, classroom assistive hearing devices, sign language interpreter, reader, consultations with the private school classroom teacher, teacher training and professional development for private school personnel. The services provided to private school students with disabilities must be provided by personnel meeting the same standards as personnel providing services in the public schools.

Equipment and supplies also can be provided to private school students with disabilities on the premises of the private school for the period of time needed for the program.  However, no funds under Part B can be used for repairs, minor remodeling, or construction of private school facilities.

Services Plan

A significant change in IDEA 1997 and subsequent regulations of March 1999 is the introduction of a services plan in lieu of an IEP for eligible, parentally placed private school students with disabilities. Any parentally placed private school student with a disability whom an LEA elects to serve must have a services plan. The Part B regulations do not require LEAs to develop services plans for every parentally placed private school student with a disability residing in the LEA's jurisdiction. Services plans are required only for those parentally placed private school students with disabilities whom the LEA has elected to serve and should reflect only the services that the LEA has determined it will provide to the student. Any additional accommodations being provided by the private school should not be part of the services plan.

The services plan must be developed, reviewed, and revised consistent with the IEP requirements. In addition, the LEA must ensure that a representative of the private school attends each services plan meeting, and if the representative cannot attend, the LEA must use other methods to ensure participation by the private school.

Location of Services and Transportation

The location of services for parentally placed private school students with disabilities is determined through the consultation process. Services can be provided at the private school, including religious schools, to the extent consistent with law, or at another location. The Supreme Court decision Agostini v. Felton in 1997 clarified that the Constitution does not prohibit providing these services in space located in a private religious school. To the extent possible, LEAs are encouraged to provide services at the private school. If services offered are not on the private school site, the LEA is responsible for providing transportation to the service site if it is necessary for the student to benefit from or participate in the service. Transportation may be provided in order for students to receive services but may not be provided between a student's home and his or her private school.

Costs related to transportation are paid from the private school students' share of federal IDEA funds and may be included in calculating whether the LEA has met the requirement of equitable expenditures for special education and related services for parentally placed private school students with disabilities.

Complaint Procedure and Due Process

Due process procedures apply only to child find for parentally placed private school students with disabilities. Under the child find provision, parents of parentally placed private school students may use the due process procedures regarding issues related to the identification and evaluation of students. In addition, an organization or individual may file a signed written complaint in accordance with the state complaint procedures alleging that an SEA or LEA has violated applicable child find requirements.

On the other hand, the due process procedures do not apply to complaints that an LEA has failed to meet applicable requirements for the provision of services serving parentally placed private school students since these students do not have an individual entitlement to services. However, an organization or individual may file a signed written complaint in accordance with the state complaint procedures alleging that an SEA or LEA has failed to meet the requirements, such as failure to properly conduct the consultation process. Due process still does not apply in this situation.

For further information about this program:

Department of Education guidance on providing services to parentally placed private school students under IDEA: http://www.nichcy.org/private.htm.

Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Web site:
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/osers/osep/index.html (This address is case sensitive.)

Contact:

Office of Special Education Programs
330 C Street, S.W., Room 3086
Washington, D.C. 20202
Telephone: (202) 205-9754
Fax: (202) 260-0416
TTY: (202) 205-5637

For questions about the participation of private school students and teachers in federal programs, contact:

Office of Non-Public Education
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-3600
Telephone: (202) 401-1365
Fax: (202) 401-1368
E-mail: OIIA/Non-PublicEducation@ed.gov
Web site: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oii/nonpublic/index.html


 
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Last Modified: 08/12/2005