Students with Disabilities Enrolled in Private Schools

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides students with disabilities enrolled in public schools an individual entitlement to a free appropriate public education (FAPE). IDEA does not extend this individual entitlement to students enrolled by their parents in private schools. However, under IDEA there are some responsibilities that the Appleton Area School District has to students with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools located within the district. One of these responsibilities is referred to as child find.​

Child Find

The Appleton Area School District must conduct activities to locate, identify, and evaluate all children with disabilities within the district, including children attending private schools. Child find activities include an individualized education program (IEP) team evaluation when a request for an evaluation (referral) has been made. Referral requests are usually made by a parent or by school personnel. It is recommended that requests for an IEP team evaluation be made in consultation with district personnel. 

Special Education and Related Services

Other than child find, children with disabilities enrolled in private schools by their parents do not have an individual entitlement to receive some or all of the special education and related services they would otherwise receive if enrolled in a public school. If a private school student, grade 4K-12, is identified as a child with a disability and the Appleton Area School District determines that some services will be provided by the district, the IEP team will develop a Private School Services Plan (PSSP) to represent what will be provided. Services may be provided in a public school or private school setting. The team must also inform parents that the child’s district of residence is responsible for providing a free appropriate public education if the student leaves the private school and enrolls in public school.

When an IEP team determines that the disability-related needs of a private school student cannot be meaningfully addressed through the limited services the district can make available through a PSSP, the team may deny services and, instead, recommend that the student be enrolled in a public school to receive all necessary special education and related services. The type, amount, and frequency of services recommended for the child, if enrolled in public school, will then be discussed with parents. In such circumstances, it is not the goal of the Appleton Area School District to gain enrollment at the expense of private schools. Rather, this difficult recommendation reflects the team’s determination that the child will not make reasonable progress in the skill areas affected without receiving all of the services needed.​ 

Equitable Participation

The Appleton Area School District must provide for the equitable participation of private school students with disabilities. Like other public school districts, the Appleton Area School District must do this by spending a proportionate share of its federal IDEA funds on the provision of special education and related services to private school students with disabilities. Expenses related to child find are not included in the proportionate share spent on behalf of private school students.

Proportionate share calculations are based on the total number of children with disabilities attending public and private schools within the boundaries of the Appleton Area School District. Historically, special education and related services provided annually to private school students have exceeded the requirements of equitable participation. 

The Appleton Area School District determines what special education and related services it will provide to private school students through annual consultation with private school officials. As previously described, services may not be provided to every private school child with a disability.



Contact

Sara Hechel
Program Support Teacher
(920) 997-1399 Ext. 2111
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