State & Federal Programs

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

Text of the Every Student Succeeds Act: PDF (1.1MB)

CAPSO’s ESSA “Starter Kit” provides a “plain English” introduction to the law that’s written for a private school audience.

ESSA Resources from the U.S. Department of Education

The USDE’s Office of Non-Public Education maintains a web page containing links to ESSA regulations, non-regulatory guidance documents, and related resources including webinar recordings and Power Point slide decks.  (Non-regulatory guidance generally takes the form of compilations of questions and answers designed to address various issues that arise during the course of implementation of the law, and which require clarification beyond the law’s accompanying regulations.  See the “Statute – Regulations – Guidance” section in the right-hand column of this page, for additional information.)

ESSA Resources on the California Department of Education Website

CDE Equitable Services Ombudsman Web Page:  The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires each state to designate an ombudsman whose responsibilities include monitoring and enforcing those provisions of the law that offer opportunities for equitable participation to private school students, teachers, and other educational personnel.  Scroll down the page to find CDE staff contact information, funding data for relevant ESSA programs, and links to additional resources.

California’s ESSA Ombudsman is Sylvia Hanna.  Ms. Hanna can be reached by phone at (916) 319-0948, or via email:

Check this CDE web page  for updates and resources relative to the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

CDE’s Title I Equitable Services FAQ

(Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA)

The following materials are made available by the U.S. Department of Education:

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Provisions Related to Children With Disabilities Enrolled by Their Parents in Private Schools

IDEA Topic Brief

IDEA FAQs (2011)

Green Ribbon Schools

California is pleased to partner with the California Department of Education in administering the private school component of the Green Ribbon Schools Recognition Award program.  (Learn more…)

What’s in a Name?

The “Every Student Succeeds Act” (ESSA) and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) are one in the same law.  Whenever ESEA undergoes reauthorization – meaning whenever the law is revamped by Congress – it receives a new “nickname” from the administration currently in office.  Thus, when ESEA was reauthorized in 2001, it was labeled the “No Child Left Behind” act (NCLB), by the George W. Bush administration.  When the law was rewritten during President Bill Clinton’s tenure of office, it became known as the “Improving America’s Schools Act” (IASA).

Child Benefit Theory

From the time of its original enactment in 1965 to the present, ESEA has contained provisions allowing for the equitable participation of private school students, teachers, and other educational personnel.  It was, and remains the intent of federal lawmakers, that programs and services provided through ESEA are furnished for the benefit of students, rather than schools.  This disposition is known as the Child Benefit Theory.

Services, not Dollars

Following from the Child Benefit Theory, private schools whose students and educators participate in ESEA/ESSA programs do not receive funding.  Federal funds always remain under the stewardship of public entities – in most cases, local public school districts.  Through a process of timely and meaningful consultation, public school district staff meet with appropriate private school officials to determine how ESEA/ESSA funds can best be utilized to provide academic benefits to private school students.  Agreed-upon services are either implemented by the district, or by third-party providers of service contracted by the district.  Because participating private schools don’t receive funding within such a structure, they are not considered “recipients of federal financial assistance.”  The U.S. Department of Education makes this policy clear, here.