Identifying Children in Parochial Schools

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My child goes to private church school. I believe she has learning disabilities, including dyslexia, so I called the local public school to ask for an evaluation.

The school told me they do not test students. They said it was my responsibility.

Child Find

Each state is responsible for ensuring that a Child Find program is up and running.

DOE requires that states have a system to ensure all children are identified and evaluated.

This means ALL children – not just children who attend public schools.

The point is to identify children who may be overlooked – like kids who don’t attend public school, homeless kids, etc.

The law is black and white on this issue. The law does not provide exceptions.

In Child Find, the law does not make a distinction between children who attend public schools, parochial schools, private schools, or home schools.


  • seeks to ensure that all children with disabilities are identified & evaluated
  • wants to know how many children are being provided with services

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 72:

(3) Child Find.

(A) In General. All children with disabilities residing in the State, including children with disabilities who are homeless children or are wards of the State and children with disabilities attending private schools, regardless of the severity of their disabilities, and who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated and a practical method is developed and implemented to determine which children with disabilities are currently receiving needed special education and related services.

(B) Construction. Nothing in this title requires that children be classified by their disability so long as each child who has a disability listed in Section 1401 of this title and who, by reason of that disability, needs special education and related services is regarded as a child with a disability under this part.


Child find requires school districts to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, including children who are home schooled, homeless, wards of the state, and children who attend private schools and determine which children are and are not receiving special education and related services.

School districts must report data about the number of children who are evaluated, found eligible and provided services.

These requirements apply to children who attend private and religious schools in the district.

Learn more about Child Find and the Child Find Mandate.

  1. what is the legal obligation of the private school to complete the RTI process for evaluation in their school. Is a private school legally obligated to complete the RTI process for a child or can they say they do not have the time, material or personnel needed and ask the child to withdraw.

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