Chapter 9: Students in Private School: Understanding Your Child's Special Education Options
Who is this for?
This chapter is for parents who have a child attending private elementary, middle or high school or who are considering moving their child from public school to private school.
[New] Why is this important?
IDEA 2004 includes new provisions to ensure that students in private elementary and secondary schools have access to special education services. It also includes strict requirements to follow when moving an IDEA-eligible student from a public to a private school.
What can parents do?
Parents considering moving a child who is receiving special education services from a public to a private school need to understand the legal requirements involved in making such a move if they intend to ask the school district to pay for the private school.
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)Special education and related services that are provided at public expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge to the parent, and that meet the standards of the state education department. Special education and related services must be provided in conformity with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) as required by IDEA.
The obligations and responsibilities of a local public school district to students with disabilities in private schools vary depending on how the students were placed in the private school. Students with disabilities who are in private schools will fall into one of the following three categories:
- Students with disabilities placed in private school by their parents prior to being found IDEA eligible (called "Parentally-placed private school children with disabilities" in IDEA)
- Students with disabilities placed in private school by their parents after being found IDEA eligible (called "Unilateral private placement" in IDEA).
- Students with disabilities placed in private school by the public school district
1. Students with disabilities placed in private school by their parents prior to being found IDEA eligible (Parentally-placed private school children with disabilities)
This term refers to students whose parents have enrolled them in a private school, including private religious schools. Students in this category have not been previously found eligible for special education services.
[New] When either the student's parent or the private school requests an evaluation, the school district where the private school is located is responsible for conducting the evaluation (as discussed in Chapter 5) and for determining if the student is eligible for special education services (as discussed in Chapter 6). The school district where the private school is located is also responsible for conducting reevaluations of eligible students.