The following key issues are the result of the Q&A that followed the IDEA Virtual Federal Program Services webinar on March 29, 2022.
- The LEA where the private school is located is responsible for locating, identifying, and evaluating private school students suspected of having a disability. The LEA should consult with private school officials as to how best to seek out and locate private school students suspected of having a disability, and also how private school families will access the child find process.
- Parents need to give permission for the child find evaluation. As soon as the parent requests child find from the LEA where the private school is located, the “clock” for evaluation begins—the LEA has 60 calendar days to complete the evaluation. The LEA cannot ask the parent to wait to sign the request until the LEA has the time to conduct the evaluation. Similarly, the LEA cannot require the private school to conduct a program of Response to Intervention as a condition for a private school child to be evaluated through child find.
- The consultation process between public and private school officials should include a discussion of what it means to be “suspected of having a disability” so that private school personnel can assist parents with the provision of appropriate paperwork and indications of the need for child find.
- Children found to have a disability through child find and who are in need of special education and related services are considered parentally placed private school children with disabilities. These are the children that each generate a per pupil allocation; the sum of the per pupil allocations is used to provide special education and related services to members of this group. No member of the group has an individual entitlement for services.
- Parents that have requested a child find evaluation and are either denied the evaluation or are dissatisfied with the results of the evaluation may file a due process complaint. (The LEA must provide the procedure for filing a due process complaint). Parents may also request a new evaluation from an outside evaluator and/or enter into mediation.
- Each private school principal must be asked to sign a written affirmation following timely and meaningful consultation attesting to the consultation being timely and meaningful covering all of the required topics and resulting in a program of services to the group of parentally placed private school students.
- Private school officials and parents have a right to file a formal complaint with the State Department of Education (SEA), which can be appealed to the U.S. Secretary of Education. The SEA must provide the procedure and format upon request if it is not available on their website or through other means.
- Consultation must be timely and meaningful and cover the topics listed in the law. These topics include (but are not limited to) child find and access to it, funding and how the funding was determined, who will provide the services, when and how the services will be provided, and how the services will be evaluated.
- Consultation that brings private school principals together in order for the LEA to explain the program that are offering, without a genuine opportunity for private school officials to express their views and have their views seriously considered is not considered IDEA consultation. If this occurs, the private school should ask for the appropriate format and topics for consultation and enlist the assistance of its member organization and/or the SEA.
- The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Education has issued FAQs on IDEA services for parentally placed private school students. It can be found at https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/non-public-education/index.html. An MDEC IDEA Toolkit and IDEA Field Guide can be accessed at www.equitableservicesmdec.com/publications.