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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"


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?


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 unit (not the least restrictive environment). Can they do this?


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.


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 21 also. However, now the school is saying they need an IEP meeting. The private school does not do IEP’s. My son went from flunking 8th grade and being reccommended for residential treatment to a 3.0 GPA and being on track. Can I use stay put? Is an IEP required? What can I do?


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