Children who are placed in private schools by their parents still have the right to some special education services from public school districts, under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). While these rights are not new, they are not widely known.
The US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) just released an updated fact sheet: Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by their Parents in Private Schools.
Here are some key points:
- The IDEA Child Find requirement to locate, identify, and evaluate children with disabilities applies to children who are enrolled by their parents in private schools. The school division in which the private school is located – not the school division in which the student resides, if different – bears this responsibility.
- Children with disabilities placed by their parents in private schools do not have the right to all of the protections or services available under the IDEA to children who are enrolled in public schools.
- School divisions must spend a proportionate amount of their IDEA funds to provide “equitable services” to this group of children, which could include direct and/or indirect services.
- “Equitable services” is not the same as the requirement to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities who are enrolled in public school.
- If a child with a disability who is enrolled in a private school is designated to receive equitable services, a services plan will be developed that describes the specific special education and related services that will be provided. Generally speaking, it will be less comprehensive than an IEP.
- The school division in which the private school is located is responsible for providing the services plan.
- The school division in which the private school is located is responsible for conducting reevaluations of children with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in the private school.