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

Part E of Title XIV--Uniform Provisions for the Participation of Private School Students

Sections 14503-14509 of Part E of Title XIV contain the Uniform Provisions that govern the participation of private school students, teachers and other personnel in programs covered by this section. This section applies to programs under part C of Title I, Migrant Education); Title II, Professional Development (other than section 2103 and part C of Title II); Title VII, Bilingual Education; Title III, Technology for Education (other than part B-- Star Schools); and part A of Title IV, Safe and Drug-Free Schools (other than section 4114).

Under Title XIV, the LEA is required to provide services to eligible private school children, teachers, and other personnel consistent with the number of eligible children enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools in the LEA. This same language is used in Title VI to define the LEA's responsibility to provide services to eligible private school children. This differs from the Title I requirement that requires the LEA to service private school children who reside in the LEA. Titles VI and XIV require that the LEA serve eligible private school children enrolled in private schools located in the LEA.

Title XIV contains requirements for timely and meaningful consultation. This consultation between public and private school officials must occur before any decision is made that could adversely affect the ability of private school students to participate and must continue through all phases of the program. The consultation must include how children's needs will be identified, what services will be offered, how and where the services will be provided, how the services will be assessed, and the amount of funds to be used for those services.

The goal of the consultation process is to design and implement a program that will provide equitable services to eligible private school students. This includes equal per pupil expenditures for public and private school students, an equal opportunity to participate in the benefits of the program, and an offer of services that is equitable.

Finally, Title XIV contains procedures to follow if private school officials do not believe that an equitable program is being offered or implemented. The first step is for private school officials to discuss this with LEA representatives. If the problem cannot be resolved, the private school officials should appeal to the SEA. If the SEA does not solve the problem to the satisfaction of the private school officials or does not reply to the appeal within a reasonable period of time, the private school officials should write to the U.S. Secretary of Education for resolution of the complaint. This request should occur no later than 30 days following the response by the SEA. The secretary has 120 days in which to resolve the complaint and will do so by working with both public and private school officials to reach resolution.

If the complaint cannot be resolved, a bypass could result. Title XIV contains the procedures that must be followed if a bypass is being sought by the U.S. Department of Education. (At present, the LEAs in two states--Missouri and Virginia--are bypassed under Part A of Title I because of state legal restrictions, not because complaints could not be resolved). Questions about the formal complaint procedure should be referred to the Office of Non-Public Education, at 600 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202- 0122; or at 202/401-1365.

Goals 2000: Educate America Act


Goals 2000: Educate America Act is designed to support state and local education reform efforts that are aimed at helping all students meet challenging academic standards. It is based on lessons learned from state and local education improvement efforts sparked by the 1983 report A Nation At Risk. Goals 2000 represents the first federal education act that helps states and communities build on and coordinate their existing reform efforts rather than creating a new program. It provides funds to states and school districts for better teacher training and professional development, encourages parents to get more involved in the education of their children (a list of Goals 2000 Parent Information Centers is included in the Appendix), provides incentive grants for schools, communities, and states to support their own effective approach to improve student achievement, and promotes flexibility by providing authority for the secretary of education to waive certain regulations to assist states and local communities in implementing school improvements.6 Importantly, it encourages each state to develop challenging academic standards for students.

Participation of Private School Students

At the request of private school teachers and administrators, information related to goals, standards, materials, and assessments developed with Goals 2000 funds must be made available. In addition, professional development opportunities supported by Goals 2000 funds must be made available to teachers and administrators in private schools in proportion to the number of students attending private schools in the state.

Special Education Services Under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act


Part B of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires states and school districts to locate, identify, and evaluate at public expense those students parentally placed at private schools who are suspected of having disabilities and needing special education and related services. This is part of the general school district responsibility, known as child find, for evaluating at public expense all students suspected of having disabilities from birth through twenty-one years of age, regardless of whether they attend public or private school. Since school districts are required by other provisions of the IDEA to conduct child find activities for all children suspected of having disabilities, including those in private schools, they do not meet their "equitable participation" obligations by merely providing screening, identification, and evaluation services to parentally placed students.

School districts must make available a free appropriate public education to those parentally placed students who are evaluated at public expense and determined to have disabilities. A free appropriate public education is made available at a public school setting or another appropriate setting determined by the district. The requirement to make available a free appropriate public education does not extend beyond these settings to a private school when the child with disabilities is parentally placed in that setting. However, school districts must provide parentally placed students with disabilities residing within their jurisdiction who are enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools a genuine opportunity for equitable participation in their special education program and make a free appropriate public education available to each eligible disabled student if the parents return their child to the public school. This obligation is owed to private school students as a group. These is no individual entitlement of parentally-placed private school students to receive services.

Even though Part B does not require that all parentally placed students with disabilities receive services, or that the full range of services be provided to those students the school district elects to serve, in designing how the school district will provide special education services to private school students with disabilities, consideration must be given to the needs of all of the private school students with disabilities and the full range of services under Part B.

Consultation Requirements

School districts must consult with appropriate representatives of students enrolled in private schools in determining, among other matters, which parentally placed disabled students will receive benefits under the program, how the students' needs will be identified, the types of services to be offered, and the manner in which the services will be provided, including the site where the services are offered and how the services under Part B will be evaluated. This consultation between representatives of school districts and appropriate representatives of students enrolled in private schools must occur during all phases of the development and design of the school district's special education program under Part B.

Use of Federal Funds and Provision of Services

School districts are required to determine the extent of the participation of students with disabilities parentally-placed in private schools only in light of the Part B funds they receive, and must expend a share of those funds on parentally placed private school students with disabilities that is proportionate to the ratio of the number of students with disabilities residing within the school district enrolled in private elementary and secondary schools by their parents to the total number of students with disabilities in the school district. Although school districts are not required under federal law to use state and local funds in meeting their obligations to parentally placed students with disabilities under Part B, they may expend their own funds to supplement available Part B funds. Schools districts may not limit their participation of parentally placed students with disabilities to those aspects of their programs that are funded with Part B funds.

School districts must provide some free services to those parentally placed students with disabilities they choose to serve, but there are no specific services that school districts must make available to this group of students. Rather, through the consultation process mentioned above and in light of at least the amount of Part B funds received by the school district, school districts and representatives of private school children design the special education program and identify the students to be served and the services they will receive. Within these parameters, school districts have broad discretion in providing special education services to specific students.

The Part B program benefits provided to parentally placed students with disabilities must be comparable in quality, scope, and opportunity for participation to the program benefits provided to public school students. The "comparable benefits" provision means that students in private schools must be given the same general types of services that public school students receive and these services must be of the same general quality. Examples of services that could be provided to parentally placed students with disabilities under Part B include speech pathology, occupational therapy, physical therapy, consultations with the private school classroom teacher, and teacher training and professional development for private school personnel. Equipment and supplies also can be provided to private school students with disabilities on the premises of the private school.

Location of Services and Limitations on Types of Services That Can Be Provided on the Premises of Religiously Affiliated Private Schools

The U.S. Department of Education continues to take the position, originally enunciated in 1985, that the Supreme Court's decision in Aguilar v. Felton (1985), which prohibits the provision of instructional services under Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 [now Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as amended] on the premises of religiously affiliated private schools, need not be applied beyond the circumstances clearly addressed by that case and therefore need not have the effect of prohibiting the provision of services under Part B to parentally placed disabled students on the premises of religiously affiliated private schools. For example, the U.S. Supreme Court held in the case of Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993), that the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution did not prevent a school district from furnishing a student with a sign language interpreter in a sectarian school to facilitate his education at that school. The secretary of education issued a letter to superintendents explaining the Department's position on this issue. [See Appendix].

If school districts determine that they will provide parentally placed disabled students with services at a location other than the private school where their parents have enrolled them, school districts may be required to provide necessary transportation services for those students at no cost to the parents. The particulars of the transportation arrangement are determined on a case-by-case basis, in light of the particular facts and circumstances. The relevant inquiry is whether transportation services are needed to enable the participation of a parentally placed disabled student whom the school district has determined, through the consultation process, to serve, in the program benefits offered by the local school district.

There are two general types of restrictions that apply to the provision of services on the premises of religiously affiliated private schools and to the students served by such a program. First, federal program funds are for the benefit of the eligible child but are not designed to provide a direct benefit to the private school at which the child is placed by his/her parents. Therefore, federal funds cannot be used for construction, remodeling, repair, operation, or maintenance of private religious facilities. Title and continuing administrative control of all equipment and supplies that a school district acquires with Part B funds must remain with the school district. However, a school district may place equipment and supplies in a private school for the period of time needed for the project if these can be removed from the private school without remodeling the private school facilities. Secondly, federal program funds, including equipment and supplies purchased with these funds, may not be used for religious worship, instruction, or proselytization.

Individualized Education Programs and Due Process Rights

The services that school districts have determined through consultation to provide to those private school students with disabilities they have elected to serve must be described in an individualized education program (IEP) in a manner that is appropriate for the student. The school district responsible for educating the student must initiate and conduct meetings for the purpose of developing and reviewing the disabled student's IEP periodically, but not less than annually, and if appropriate, revise its provisions. A representative of the private school must be invited to attend the meeting. If a representative from the private school cannot attend, the school district must use other methods to secure participation by the private school, including individual or conference telephone calls.

Parents of all students with disabilities parentally placed in private schools may initiate an impartial due process hearing on matters relating to the identification and evaluation of their child by the local school district. Parents of children with disabilities parentally placed in private schools do not have the right to initiate a due process hearing on matters relating to whether the school district erred in failing to offer any services to the child if the school district has elected not to serve their child, or whether the school district should have offered another service or services to their child in lieu of or in addition to the services actually offered, or whether the child needed more than provided.

Discretionary Grants Offered by the U.S. Department of Education

Unlike a formula grant program, in which the Department awards grants to eligible parties based on a predetermined formula, a discretionary grant is one that the Department awards on the basis of a competitive process. The Department reviews applications competitively in light of the legislative and regulatory requirements established for a program. The Department provides any further information for applicants in the application materials. The Department then solicits applications and awards grants.

Six principal offices of the Department are responsible for overseeing a portion of the discretionary grant programs established by Congress and administered by the Department. These offices are: Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Affairs, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Postsecondary Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and Office of Vocational and Adult Education.

Information announcing competitions for discretionary grant programs of the Department is published first in the Federal Register. The Federal Register is published daily, Monday through Friday, and is available at many libraries, online to U.S. Government Depository Libraries, or by subscription from Superintendent of Documents, Attn. New Orders, Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954.

An excellent way to get information about discretionary grant programs at the U.S. Department of Education is to consult the Department's World Wide Web page for the Guide to the U.S. Department of Education Programs. The Guide is also available in hard copy from the Department, but the World Wide Web page is more current because it is updated as soon as funding information becomes available and competitions are announced. The Guide describes the various discretionary grant programs and gives the telephone contact number for each program. To obtain the Guide, download it from the Department's World Wide Web Home Page (http://web99.ed.gov/Program2.nsf) or call 202/708-8773. If you are interested in applying for a particular grant, check the web page for updated information on funding, contact the program office responsible for any questions or to request information on eligible applicants, program regulations, and an application package. Follow the application instructions in the package, which generally require you to complete certain standard forms and send them, along with a narrative description of the proposed project and an estimated budget, to the Department by a certain date. Another good way to keep up with grant availability is through the News Section on the Department's Home Page.

Grant recipients are required to abide by various laws, regulations, and executive orders that apply to recipients of federal funds. For example, standard assurances relate to such items as civil rights or environmental laws; one of the certifications requires that grant recipients agree to maintain a drug-free workplace.

For further information about the grants process at the U.S. Department of Education, request a copy of What Should I Know About ED Grants? by writing to Director, Grants Division, GCS, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, D.C. 20202- 4700 or by calling 1-800-USA-LEARN.

Many of the discretionary grant programs at the U.S. Department of Education are authorized under Title X of the Improving America's Schools Act. Part A of Title X, Fund for Improvement of Education, provides for the use of funds to "support nationally significant programs and projects to improve the quality of education, assist all students to meet challenging State content standards and challenging State student performance standards, and contribute to achievement of the National Education Goals." A wide range of possible uses of grant funds is listed in Section 10101 of Title X: comprehensive health education, foreign language education, metric education, service learning, and others.

In most instances, the listing of eligible applicants does not specify "private" or "non- public" schools (although in some cases one of these is specifically mentioned). Private schools may be eligible to apply if they are non-profit institutions or as "other public or private agencies, organizations, or institutions." Likewise, a private school may be a member of a consortia as a nonprofit institution or other public or private agency. However, pervasively sectarian schools cannot constitutionally receive direct grants of public funds (as distinct from other religiously affiliated institutions).

Private schools or groups of private schools interested in further investigating available grant programs should take the following steps:

Home Schooling

All states allow home schooling and consider it a legitimate option for meeting compulsory education requirements. Typically, home schooling is regulated by a state's statutes, through a state court ruling, a state attorney general opinion, or a state regulation that interprets a school attendance law to include home schooling. Because each state regulates home schooling differently, parents should examine state and local laws and consult with other home schoolers before proceeding. In every state, parents must, at a minimum, notify a state or local education agency of their intent to educate their children at home and identify the children involved. Several states require the submission of proposed curricula and tests or have educational requirements for parents. A few even test parents. Only Michigan requires certified teachers to be involved in home schooling programs, but the state allows parents to choose a program's teacher and does not specify a minimum level of teacher supervision. Michigan courts have excused parents from the certification requirement if they have religious objections.

Regulation and support of home schooling are carried out at the state and local levels. However, the federal government also plays an important role by disseminating research- based information on home schooling to policy makers and others, and by supporting research on a broad range of issues affecting teaching and learning. Most federal support for education is dedicated to programs for children who have special needs, such as low- achieving children, children with limited English proficiency, and children with disabilities. Generally, local districts have the option of offering services under these programs to home schoolers who meet the criteria for eligibility.

The federal government very clearly does not regulate home schooling, since this is a State function. Section 14508 of the Improving America's Schools Act states that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect home schools." Because some states consider home schools to be private schools, Section 14509 also includes the following language for home schools: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to permit, allow, encourage, or authorize any Federal control over any aspect of any private, religious, or home school, whether or not a home school is treated as a private school or home school under State law. This section shall not be construed to bar private, religious, or home schools from participation in programs or services under this Act."

To get started, most home schooling families join local support groups. Families often find these groups by word of mouth or through public or private schools, religious groups, or state or national associations. Information and resources for home schoolers are also available by contacting 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. Also, a brochure entitled, Home Schooling Resources for Parents and Children is available free while supplies last by calling ACCESS ERIC at 1- 800-LET-ERIC.


6  As in other federal education programs in which the secretary of education is granted waiver authority, the equitable participation of private school students cannot be waived.


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Last Updated -- June 13, 2001 (jcl)