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IDEA 2004 and Private Schools

by Wrightslaw

I work at a small private school and two of our students have a current IEP.  The staff was told that because we are a private school, we are not obligated to service the IEP. This doesn’t sound right, is it correct?

It depends. IDEA 2004 does not apply to private schools. Private schools are not covered under IDEA, the special education law.

If a public school places a child with an IEP in a private spec ed school as a part of the IEP, then the public school remains responsible for ensuring that the private school implements the IEP.

Children who attend public schools are entitled to a free appropriate education and an IEP, and they receive funding from the federal government. Private schools do not receive this funding and are not required to provide a free appropriate education or an IEP. They are not required to provide special education services to children with disabilities.

Private schools are bound by Section 504 and cannot discriminate against a child with a disability for reasons related to the disability and might be responsible for providing modifications, accommodations, and access to educational opportunities (such as a ramp for a child in a wheelchair).

Public schools may still have responsibilities for children with disabilities who are enrolled in private schools.

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23 Comments on "IDEA 2004 and Private Schools"

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12/17/2014 12:54 pm

If a private school were to have government bonds for construction and property, would that be receiving government money and thus have to provide for students with a disability?

01/28/2014 2:11 pm

My daughter is 3 years old and has Down Syndrome. She’s been in private preschool fully mainstreamed for 2 years and doing well (least restrictive environment). When she turned 3, we requested that she receive ST, OT, and PT only thru the public school system while remaining in private school full time. The district said if she remains enrolled in private school, they could only offer ST because it’s a “direct” service, but said they have no funds at this time to provide OT or PT (“related services”) unless we enroll her in the half day program in the PPCD… Read more »

09/22/2013 6:21 pm

Can i put my daughter in a private religious school with an IEP in a will they were still able to receive services through the public school? I got the Special Education Right and Responsibilities handbook and it says a child can go to a private school and possibly receive services at the public school if the budget had enough, this is for California residents, we are in San diego my daughter requires speech therapy and occupational therapy.

09/18/2013 1:41 pm

Four years ago after several civil rights complaints and idea complaints, I filed a 10 day notice of intent of parental placement in a private school with our school district. They agreed during mediation to pay for the (very unusual) private placement. Fast forward. He has had no IEP for the last 4 years. At the private school, each class and service is customized to his needs and changing goals/classes/services takes less than 2 days if it is needed. His mediated agreement has expired and we figure he needs two more years to graduate…he’ll be… Read more »

08/14/2012 12:14 am

I need to know if the public school is required to continue an IEP yrly on my child even though he is in private school? Wanting help with transition service requirements of iep. Thank you

04/23/2012 9:37 pm

what if the private school refuses to provide simple behavior modifications as laid out by the child’s psychologist. I have a client whose child was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The school is refusing to provide a behavior mod plan b/c they feel she requires “stricter discipline.”

Sharon L.
08/02/2011 8:55 pm

Jennifer – It would not hurt to get a team meeting together and ask about a laptop. If they refuse they must put refusal in “prior written notice’. You can request a technology evaluation be done by the school (in writing) to see what the recommendations would be. The school should be open to that. Make sure you sign the school’s evaluation request form or the 60 day clock for them to get it done will not start. Once you get the results they may just get the laptop. If you do not agree with… Read more »

08/02/2011 2:57 pm

My daughter has been placed at a private therapeutic school at public expense due to FAPE. This private school requires purchase of school supplies and textbooks (so the students can keep and write in the books) and this year the upper school students require a laptop or better in the classroom. Is the public school responsible for these extra costs? Must the public school supply the required technology on loan? I paid the public school’s registration fees but am stilled being required to pay for the new textbooks. I also cannot afford a laptop for my daughter. Her IEP… Read more »

02/15/2011 9:57 am

My child has ‘graduated’ from the need for alternate BSP placement since the leveled BSP was so successful (yay) but this means being zoned for our neighborhood school where he was traumatized and led to the BSP alternate placement in the first place (boo). We are considering private placement at our expense (Aspie ADHD with an Einstein leaning). At present we’re on an IEP. Wrights can you be less ambiguous about the “might be responsible for…” statement in regard to Section 504? The public school would like to move us to a 504 which I would not accept based… Read more »

02/01/2011 1:55 pm

My son is placed in a private school that focuses on his specific disability due to Stay Put law. We are currently in Due Process and the DOE is asking me to sign consent of release of information for ALL school records. My question is do I have to give them access to all records or do they have to be specific as to what they need? The case is still pending decision and I don’t want them to have card blanc to get his personal information but am willing to let them get what they need… Read more »

12/16/2010 5:02 am

How does special education apply to students who have an IEP and are placed in a private day treatment program by the court which within this day treatment program is a public school district that provides education. This district considers this program an alternative program however, it is still a public school district that receives state and federal funding. Last year, these students did NOT receive one credit(Or spec. ed. services for those with an IEP) after an entire semester because this district failed to provide final exams. The private agency that oversees the program also… Read more »

2 Phil
12/03/2010 11:35 am

HIPPA regulates how medical information is shared from a medical agency to a school, but once that information is received by the school, it is considered to be educational information, regulated by FERPA. This enables a school to share a student’s information with educational personnel more freely. Therefore, neither HIPPA nor FERPA apply to how a private school handles information about a child’s medical issues. Obviously, however, any private school must handle personal student information carefully, regardless of FERPA or HIPPA, or it is vulnerable to legal action. I can imagine that a private school would… Read more »

04/21/2010 11:09 am

I would also like further clarification on this issue. If a parent chooses to enroll their child at the private school, is the public school, under child find, responsible for evaluating the child and making an offer of FAPE at the public school ?(of course the parents do not have to accept it). Also, does the public school still have to provide related services, such as speech or OT to a child who is not enrolled at their school?

03/15/2010 10:36 pm

Susan, you are correct that the private school does not follow FERPA, however with medical records, I believe they still would need to comply with HIPAA regulations and information sharing.

Valerie, certainly take a look at the info from Wrightslaw. Schools often like to push the limits of what is “screening” or for “instructional purposes” which can negate consent requirements. Other than preK screening cognitive or IQ testing is rarely given without consent. Things can be tougher with academic testing. You would need to see if just your child was tested or everyone, for what purpose, etc. If the purposes were… Read more »

03/10/2010 4:38 pm

I’d like further clarification on this subject please…What if part of the private school’s funding is from Med-Cal (50% federal) and HUD? In CA NPSs have to sign an assurance statement that they will maintain compliance with IDEA, is that binding?

03/10/2010 12:47 pm

Our school district is refusing to let our wrap around services (BSC) to observe and consult in the classroom settting. What are our rights & schools rights for forbidding this.

03/06/2010 8:50 am

Is it legal for a noneducator to have your child take an educational or IQ test without your written or oral consent?

If so, is there a law which addresses this?

03/02/2010 9:31 pm

Mike, because we did not live in the school district where the parochial school was located, that local school district only did the eligibility. They would not offer services or duel enrollment. However, our home school district in VA accepted the eligibility without question. After that, we submitted a complaint to the Diocese. The principal retired soon afterward. One area of discomfort is that the Diocese would not destroy or return the personal/medical information that they obtained during our effort to document our son’s disability. They do not follow FERPA either. I’m sure there is a place for small private… Read more »

03/02/2010 12:56 pm

In my district (Illinois based), students heading into private school with an IEP switch to an Individualized Service Plan, which although does not offer IDEA protections gives us an avenue to provide services from the public school. Typically this is limited to speech/language or other itinerant areas. Our district also handles evaluations for private parochial schools in the area, due to child find responsibility within our area.

Susan, as a public school psych I am biased and I would recommend checking out your local district, even for potential dual enrollment options. You may want to contact the parish office or higher… Read more »

02/27/2010 8:27 am

The parochial school that our son attended in VA did not recognize the IDEA, Section 504 or the ADA even though they advertized themselves as providing Title I services. We submitted a complaint to the DOE, Office of Civil Rights and they said that they did not have jurisdiction because there was no federal money going DIRECTLY to the school. Our psychologist recommended that we move our son to the public school because of the principal’s approach/attitude toward his disability and fear that the experience there would lead to permanent psychological damage. As difficult as life… Read more »

02/27/2010 8:22 am

Our public school is paying for a private placement.

My son’s only IEP goal for the current school year is that he will have a Guidance Counselor from the public school to provide information on post graduate plans.

The Public school counselor made first contact in December to inform us of a January deadline for a scholarship program.
The second contact was at 5:15 one evening inviting my son to an awards banquet the following night. His peers were notified in time to attend.

The school’s attorney addressed this by informing us that “It is up to the private school to follow the IEP”.… Read more »

02/25/2010 10:18 pm

This is an interesting and evolving area, for a number of reasons. The private school universe is much more heterogeneous than the public school universe.

The writer doesn’t say if the school in question is secular or religous.

a) About 80% of “private schools” are in some way religious in nature (like parochial schools, attached to a particular congregation, or like Jewish day schools, associated with a general religious belief).
b) Many religious schools used to ignore “special education students” but have in the last decade made great efforts to be inclusive — to the best of their (sometimes limited) resources.
c)… Read more »