On August 3, 2006, the US Department of Education announced the release of the final regulations governing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as reauthorized in 2004. The regulations expand upon and clarify the language contained in the actual statute.
An official copy of the regulations will be published in the Federal Register on August 14. The U.S. Department of Education has made an unofficial copy of the regulations available during the interim.
The IDEA regulations include a number of sections relating to children with disabilities who have been placed in private schools by their parents. The Council for American Private Education (CAPE) has prepared a useful side-by-side comparison of language found in the “new” and “old” versions of these sections, alongside the actual statutory language to which they relate.
The US Department of Education offers an informative document titled “Questions and Answers on Serving Children With Disabilities Placed by Their Parents at Private Schools.” The document may be viewed/downloaded in either Microsoft Word or PDF format.
Several features of the new regulations are of particular note. These include:
- Change in Child Find Oversight Responsibility
The public school district in which a private school is located is now responsible for identifying parent-placed children with special needs who are enrolled in the private school, regardless of where such children reside. Therefore, if a parent suspects that his/her child possesses a disability and wishes for the child to be assessed, he/she should contact officials employed by the public school district in which the child’s private school is located. In practice, assessments might be assigned to the public school district in which a private school student resides. However, the legal responsibility for the provision of such assessments remains with the district in which the private school of attendance is located.
- More Comprehensive Consultation Requirements
Public school districts must consult with private school representatives and representatives of parents of parent-placed private school children with disabilities during the design and development of special education and related services for the children regarding:
- How children possessing special needs will be identified;
- The manner in which funding for the provision of services is determined;
- The nature of the consultation process, itself;
- How, where, and by whom services will be provided;
- How disagreements about the provision of services will be handled.Public school districts must now obtain written affirmation from private school officials and parental representatives that timely and meaningful consultation has occurred.
- Record Keeping
Public school districts must keep records in which the following information regarding parent-placed private school students with special needs is provided:
- The number of children evaluated;
- The number of children determined to be children with disabilities;
- The number of children served.
- Carry-Over of Funds
If a public school has not allocated all the funds available to provide services to parent-placed private school children with special needs at the end of the fiscal year for which the funds were appropriated, the unused funds must be set-aside for the provision of services to such children during a carry-over period of one additional year.
The US Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Education has prepared a table listing all sections of the IDEA regulations that contain content of interest to the private school community:
(Prepared by the US Department of Education’s Office of Non-Public Education)