A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

Serving Private School Students With Federal Education Programs

Chapter 2.....U. S. Department of Education Programs Serving Private School Students

Formula Grant Programs Authorized Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

The Improving America's Schools Act, signed into law by President Clinton in October 1994, reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). ESEA was originally passed by Congress in 1965 and the law authorized programs to benefit educationally needy elementary and secondary students living in areas with high concentrations of children from low-income families. The purpose of the reauthorized ESEA is to improve teaching and learning for all children to enable them to meet challenging academic content and student performance standards.

This section of the handbook describes "formula" grant programs authorized under ESEA. Generally, a formula grant is a grant of funds to the state or local education agency based on a pre-determined formula, such as the number of children enrolled by grade or the number of children from low-income families.

Under the reauthorized ESEA, as in the previous ESEA, private school students, teachers, and other personnel are included in these programs. Private schools receive no direct aid from these programs. Program funds are granted to the public authorities (usually a local education agency or public school district) who are in turn responsible for serving eligible students, teachers, and other personnel within their boundaries, whether they attend public or private school. The formula, requirements, and procedures vary by program, but the principle of the public authority's responsibility for all eligible students within its jurisdiction remains constant.

To ensure that private school students, teachers, and other personnel have every opportunity to participate in federal education programs for which they are eligible, private school officials should contact their local public school district and ask for the person in charge of coordinating federal education programs. In larger districts, several people will be involved and could be assigned by program; in smaller districts, there is often just one person who coordinates the involvement of students, teachers, and other personnel in all of the federal education programs in which the district participates. It is important for private school officials to establish a positive, productive working relationship with this person or persons. Questions are more easily answered and difficulties more easily worked out when the officials involved have met to discuss the issues beforehand.

Private school officials should consider the following:


Part A of Title I--Helping Disadvantaged Children
Meet High Standards

Introduction

Part A of Title I of ESEA, Improving Basic Programs Operated by Local Educational Agencies, is designed to help disadvantaged children meet challenging content and student performance standards. Part A of Title I provides financial assistance state education agencies (SEAs) to local education agencies (LEAs) to meet the educational needs of children who are failing or most at risk of failing to meet a state's challenging content and student performance standards in school attendance areas and schools with high concentrations of children from low-income families.

Part A embraces the following fundamental strategies to address the needs of children served:

Section 1120 of Title I requires that an LEA provide eligible private school children with Title I educational services or other benefits that are equitable to those provided to eligible public school children. Title I services for eligible private school children must be developed in consultation with private school officials. The location of instructional services under Part A of Title I for private school children is limited by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Aguilar v. Felton4.

Consultation Between Public and Private School Officials

Section 1120 [b] of Title I of requires that consultation by an LEA with private school officials be "timely and meaningful." Therefore, consultation must take place before an LEA makes any decision that affects the opportunities of eligible private school children to participate in Title I programs. An LEA must consult with private school officials during the design and development of the LEA's Part A programs, on issues such as:

The consultation process must include ongoing coordination of services in order to provide private school participants an optimal opportunity to reach challenging standards. It is, therefore, very important that Title I teachers and LEA officials consult with private school officials and instructional staff throughout the program cycle in order to coordinate Title I services with regular classroom instruction.

For a fuller discussion of the issue of consultation, read Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A. (See "Providing Services to Eligible Private School Children, pages 1- 2). A copy of this policy guidance can be obtained by calling 202/260-0826 or writing to the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Compensatory Education Programs, Portals Building, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-6132.

Generating Funds for Services to Eligible Private School Students

Under Section 1113 of Title I, public school attendance areas are generally eligible to participate in Title I if the percentage of children from low-income families is at least as high as the percentage of children from low-income families in the LEA as a whole. An LEA ranks its eligible areas and selects, in rank order, those areas that the LEA will serve. For areas above 75 percent poverty, the LEA must serve them without regard to grade span; thus, high-poverty middle and high schools must be served. After an LEA has selected for services all attendance areas above 75 percent poverty, the LEA may serve lower ranked areas by grade-span groupings.

In identifying and ranking eligible public school attendance areas, an LEA generally should, if possible, take into consideration data on the number of children from low-income families who reside in each area and attend private schools. These data may not be available for private school students throughout the LEA, however; thus the LEA may identify and rank its eligible areas on the basis of children from low-income families attending public school only.

Under Section 1113(c) of Title I, an LEA must allocate funds to a participating public school attendance area or school on the basis of the total number of children from low-income families, including low-income children attending private schools. Thus, the LEA, in consultation with private school officials, must obtain the best poverty data on private school children who reside in participating school attendance areas. Because private school officials may have access to some sources of poverty information not easily accessible to public school officials, it is very important that public and private school officials cooperate in this effort. The responsibility for collection of data, however, does rest with the LEA.

An LEA may use any of the following methods to obtain poverty data on private school children. The choice of method is decided in consultation between public and private school officials.

  1. Data from the same source (e.g. free and reduced-price lunch data).

  2. Comparable data (e.g. the LEA uses free and reduced-price lunch data but the private school children do not participate in the free lunch program; however, private school officials are able to provide the LEA a count of children who would be eligible for free and reduced-price lunches using other sources of poverty data, such as a survey of parents).

  3. Extrapolation from a representative sample of actual data (e.g. the private school officials conduct a survey as explained in #2 above, but all survey forms are not returned; the LEA extrapolates the number of low-income private school children from actual data on the surveys that were returned).

  4. Correlation of sources of poverty data, i.e. AFDC in public schools is to free and reduced-price lunch in public schools as AFDC in private schools is to X [correlated free and reduced-price lunch in private schools]).

After reserving off-the-top costs, for example, for services to local institutions for neglected children, administration of Title I programs, and costs of compliance with Aguilar v. Felton, the LEA allocates funds to public school attendance areas selected to participate in Title I. The LEA determines a per-pupil allocation for each participating area and distributes that amount for each low-income child--public and private--residing in the area.

To provide equitable services to private school children, the LEA then reserves the amounts generated by poor private school children who reside in participating public school attendance areas. In consultation, the LEA and private school officials determine how funds to benefit private school students will be distributed. They may choose to provide equitable services to eligible children in each private school with the funds generated by children from low-income families who reside in participating public school attendance areas and who attend that private school.

They may also choose to combine the funds generated by low-income private school children in all participating areas to create a pool of funds from which the LEA provides equitable services to eligible private school children, residing in participating public school attendance areas, who are in the greatest educational need of these services. Finally, they may choose to exercise a combination of these options.

For a fuller discussion on the issue of generating funds for services to private school students, consult Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A. ( See "Providing Services to Eligible Private School Children", pages 3-10).

Equitable Participation of Eligible Private School Students

To the extent consistent with the number of eligible children identified in an LEA who are enrolled in private elementary or secondary schools, an LEA shall, after timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate private school officials, provide eligible private school children with Title I services. These services must be equitable in comparison to services and other benefits provided public school participants. The delivery options selected must be in compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court case, Aguilar v. Felton.

To be eligible to receive Title I services, a private school child must reside in a participating public school attendance area and must meet the criteria in section 1115(b) of Title I. Under that section, certain children would be eligible by virtue of their status: for example, homeless children and children who in the preceding two years participated in Head Start of Even Start. However, the criterion that a student is failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State's challenging student content and performance standards is, for the majority of private school children, likely to be the criterion against which eligibility for Title I services will be determined.

In consultation with private school officials, an LEA must establish criteria to determine which private school children are eligible and, within the eligible group, which children will be served. To the extent appropriate, the LEA must select private school children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet the State's student content and performance standards. If the LEA, in consultation with private school officials, determines that it is inappropriate to select private school children on the basis of the State's content and student performance standards, the LEA must select private school children who are failing, or most at risk of failing, to meet high levels of achievement comparable to those required by the State's content and performance standards.

Once students are selected, the LEA, in consultation with private school officials, determines what Title I services are to be provided. The private school students' needs will determine what Title I services are appropriate and services may be provided in subject areas of grade levels that are different form those provided to public school students. The type of services provided must give reasonable promise that the children will make adequate progress toward achieving the State's challenging student performance standards.

Because eligibility for services is determined by residence in a participating public school attendance area, private school students being served need to reside in an eligible participating public school attendance area. Therefore, if a public middle school attendance area is not participating in Title I, Title I services may not be provided to private school students in middle school grades that reside in that area.

In the case of children attending religiously affiliated private schools, several court cases, most notably Aguilar v. Felton, have dealt with the manner in which these children may be served in light of constitutional requirements contained in the First Amendment. Most significant is the prohibition in Aguilar v. Felton against Title I personnel providing instructional services in religiously affiliated schools. Because of this prohibition, an LEA must provide equitable services through alternate delivery methods.

Some of the questions that should be considered when determining what delivery system to use in ensuring the equitable participation of private school children include: Does the system provide an opportunity for private school children to participate in Title I services that is equitable to the opportunity provided to public school children? How much instructional time is lost going to and from the instructional services? What are the safety factors involved in children going to and from the Title I class?

Delivery options5 in providing services to participating private school children include, but are not limited to:

An LEA may provide Title I services directly or through contracts with public and private agencies, organizations, and institutions, as long as those entities are independent of the private school and of any religious organization in the provision of those services.

For a fuller discussion of the equitable participation of private school children, consult Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A, (see section entitled "Providing Services to Eligible Private School Children", page 10-24).

Parental Involvement

When schools work together with families to support learning, children learn more and schools work better. Three decades of research have shown that parental participation in schooling improves student learning. Such participation of parents and families is critical not only in the very beginning of the education process but throughout a child's entire academic career. Title I, Part A has been restructured to serve as a means for helping all students to achieve challenging academic standards. To accomplish this objective, Title I, Part A promotes the formation of new partnerships, particularly home-school partnerships, to help address more completely the full range of student needs that impact on their learning.

Parental participation, including the participation of parents of participating private school students, is on several levels For a fuller discussion on the participation of parents on the SEA and LEA levels, consult Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A (See section entitled "Parental Involvement).

In addition to an LEA parent involvement policy, each participating public school must jointly develop with, and distribute to, parents of participating children a written parental involvement policy, agreed upon by these parents, that describes the means for carrying out school-level policy, sharing responsibility for high student performance, building capacity of school staff and parents for involvement, and increasing accessibility for participation of parents with limited English proficiency or with disabilities. In order to define the shared responsibility of parents and the school for high student performance, parents of participating Title I children and school officials jointly develop a parent-school compact.

The parent-school compact is a written agreement of shared responsibility that defines goals and expectations of schools and parents as partners in the effort to improve student achievement. It describes a school's responsibility to provide high-quality curriculum and instruction in a supportive and effective learning environment; describes ways in which parents will be responsible for supporting their children's learning, such as monitoring attendance, homework completion, volunteering in their children's classrooms, and encouraging the positive use of extracurricular time; and addresses the importance of establishing ongoing, good communication between parents and teachers. This school- parent compact must be reviewed and updated periodically with parents of participating children and school officials.

An LEA must involve parents of participating private school students in these activities. Activities for parents of private school participants must be designed in consultation with private school officials and parents. Furthermore, an LEA has the responsibility for consulting with private school officials and parents of participating private school children to jointly develop a compact between the LEA and parents of private school participants that outlines their shared responsibility for improved student achievement under Title I. A compact between the private school and participating private school children is not required, however.

If an LEA reserves funds "off the top" of its Title I allocation for carrying out Title I parental involvement activities, the LEA must involve parents of private school participants in those activities. If, instead, the LEA requires its Title I schools to provide parental involvement activities for public school parents from the Title I funds the schools receive, the LEA must provide activities for private school parents from the funds generated for providing services to private school children.

Professional Development

Professional development is another major emphasis of Title I. Section 1119 contains provisions for required professional development activities. Many other sections of Title I also include references to professional development.

Private school officials and staff who work directly with private school children who participate in Title I may be included in professional development activities. In addition, parents of private school participants may participate in professional development activities if appropriate. Public school teachers who provide Title I services to private school children must be provided professional development, if needed.

Professional development activities must support instructional practices that are geared to challenging state content standards and create a school environment conducive to high achievement in academic subjects. A fuller discussion of professional development under Title I is found in Policy Guidance for Title I, Part A. (See section entitled "Professional Development").

As with parental involvement costs, if an LEA reserves funds "off the top" of its Title I allocation for carrying out Title I professional development activities, the LEA may involve teachers of participating private school children in those activities. If, instead, the LEA requires its Title I schools to provide professional development activities for public school teachers from the funds the schools receive, the LEA must provide activities for teachers of participating private school children from the funds generated for providing services to private school children. An LEA has the responsibility for consulting with private school officials to jointly develop a professional development plan that will meet the needs of participating private school children.

Complaint Procedures Under Title I

Complaint procedures under Title I, Part A are the same as for other covered programs authorized by ESEA. If a private school official believes that private school children are not receiving equitable services under Title I or believes that other requirements of the law are not being followed which could result in non-equitable services being provided to private school children, the law provides a procedure to follow to ensure that the issue is resolved. If the private school official has a complaint about the services being provided or the procedure being followed to provide these services, the private school official should first bring this issue to the attention of the LEA. If the issue remains unresolved, the private school official should appeal to the SEA for resolution. If the SEA does not resolve the issue to the satisfaction of the private school official or does not do so in a timely manner, the private school official has the right to appeal to the U.S. Secretary of Education. The appeal must be made within 30 days of the state's response. Once a formal complaint is received by the U.S. Department of Education, the Department is required to resolve the complaint within 120 days. The Department will work with all parties to ensure that the law is upheld and that the best interests of the children to be served are paramount.

For further information on the complaint procedure, please contact the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Non-Public Education, 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-0122 or by phone at 202/401-1365.


Footnotes:

4  In Aguilar v. Felton, 473 U.S. 402 (1985), the Supreme Court ruled that the provision of Chapter 1 (the current Title I, Part A program) instructional services by private school teachers to religious school children in religious school buildings constituted "excessive entanglement" between government and religion in violation of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, in July 1995, issued a statement in support of the reconsideration of Felton in an appropriate case. A copy of Secretary Riley's statement on Aguilar v. Felton is found in the Appendix. The Secretary has also issued a policy letter stating that the Felton decision need not be applied beyond the circumstances clearly addressed by that case and therefore it need not have the effect of prohibiting on-premises services to religious school students in other Federal programs. A copy of this letter is contained in the Appendix.

5  For a discussion of service delivery locations and options for religious-school students under Chapter 1 (currently Title I), see Chapter 1 Services to Religious-School Students, A Supplemental Volume to the National Assessment of the Chapter 1 Program, published for the U.S. Department of Education by Policy Studies Associates in June 1993. Of particular interest is Chapter 3, "Characteristics of Chapter 1 Services for Religious-School Participants". For a discussion of the option of computer-assisted instruction, see The Use of Computer- Assisted Instruction in Chapter 1 Programs Serving Sectarian Private School Students, published for the U.S. Department of Education by Policy Studies Associates in December 1992.


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Last Updated -- November 7, 1996, (pjk)