With the current school year drawing to a rapid close, it is vital that every private school initiates or re-establishes contact with public school district officials so as to be advised of the programs and services available to your students and faculty through the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) during the 2003-2004 school year.
No private school is under any obligation to participate in any aspect of NCLB. However, every private school leader should obtain an understanding of the various opportunities for participation the law extends to private school students and staff. How to do so? CAPSO recommends the following action steps:
Action Step 1
Read CAPSO's Primer on ESEA (NCLB)
This document will provide you with an overview of the No Child Left Behind Act and its relevant provisions for private school participation without the legalese.
Action Step 2
Read and save the State Superintendent's Guidance Letter.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell will soon issue a letter titled: "Provision for Private Schools: No Child Left Behind Act Implementation." This document will be mailed to all private schools with a current affidavit on file, as well as to appropriate officials in every public school district in the state. After you have read the letter, save it. CAPSO will issue an alert when this document is mailed and will post a downloadable link to the letter on our website.
Action Step 3
Designate an appropriate individual as your school's NCLB contact person.
One staff person should be assigned the responsibility of serving as the official liaison between the school and the local school district in all matters pertaining to NCLB. This responsibility is generally, but not necessarily, assigned to the principal, head of school, or other administrator.
Action Step 4
Contact your local school district to initiate the consultation process.
CAPSO has prepared a sample letter and response form that your NCLB liaison can complete and mail to the individual who serves as your local school district's Title Programs Coordinator for No Child Left Behind. Be sure to print the completed letter on official school letterhead. The letter contains a "NCLB Response Form" upon which district officials will be asked to indicate the specific programs to be offered during the coming school year. Each of the programs listed on the form allow for private school participation.
Be sure to...
If you don't receive a timely response...
- Fill in all appropriate information in the sample letter. Give your local school district two weeks time in which to respond.
- Fill in the upper portion of the "NCLB Response Form."
- Mail the letter and response form to your local district's Title Programs Coordinator for No Child Left Behind.
Action Step 5
- Phone the individual to whom the letter was mailed to set a meeting date. Have copies of both your letter and the State Superintendent's letter at the handy.
- If the individual tells you that he/she is not responsible for working with private schools, politely insist on speaking with the official who is responsible. Remember, the law requires the district to engage in timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials.
- If the district refuses to cooperate, call CAPSO.
Prepare for your first consultation meeting.
Action Step 6
- Be familiar with the consultation requirements regarding the equitable participation of private school students and teachers in federal education programs as outlined in Title IX, Part E, Section 9501, Title I, Part A, Section1120, and Title V, Part A, Section 5142. Download and print a copy of these portions of the law. Read the material and bring it with you to the meeting.
- Have a good sense of your students' and teachers' needs. Keep in mind that all programs and services provided under NCLB must be of a secular, neutral and nonideological nature. Use the "NCLB Response Form" and the "CAPSO Primer" (see Action Step 1) to match needs to NCLB programs.
- Ask the official(s) to briefly describe the services the district will make available to public school students and teachers under each of the programs checked off on the "NCLB Response Form." Give the official(s) a sense of the programs in which students and staff from your school are likely to opt to participate.
- Ask the official(s) to tell you the total number of students enrolled in district public schools in grades K-12, and the total number of students enrolled in private schools within the district's boundaries, in grades K-12. Ask how much money the district has received, or expects to receive for each of the programs of interest to your school.
- Perhaps the most important goal for your initial meeting with officials of your local school district is that of establishing a positive, productive working relationship. Your relationship with your public school district officials should be collegial. Remember, you are working together to implement the law for the ultimate benefit of the student.
- Give the district official(s) a copy of your school calendar, including starting and dismissal times, and notify them as soon as possible of any unscheduled change in calendar. Inform your contact at the district if the school office will be closed for any of the summer months.
- Remember that private schools are never the recipients of federal funds. The funds provide programs and services that are delivered to private school students and/or staff either through district, or other government personnel, or through third-party service providers paid for by the district, using federal funds.
- Decide on a mutually acceptable process for resolving disagreements. The law is long and complex, and may give rise to differing understandings and interpretations. If a disagreement cannot be resolved at the district level, you may wish to turn to the California Department of Education. The CDE's Private School Liaison is Marleen Allin. 916 319-0232 email@example.com
- Before you conclude the meeting, schedule a date, time and preliminary agenda for your next consultative meeting and agree upon intermediate "next steps."
Check the CAPSO website for NCLB-related updates and announcements.
CAPSO will provide timely announcements and information related to No Child Left Behind and will periodically update this document.
CAPSO welcomes your feedback. If you encounter a problem you cannot resolve, please contact us. We also encourage you to let us know about districts that have been highly cooperative so that we can both express our appreciation and study the procedures they employ so as to share "best practices" with officials at the state level.