Private School Enrollment
Under IDEA 2004 and pertinent state law and regulations, students with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools have specified rights. First, as with all other children with suspected disabilities, Districts have a duty called “Child Find”.
Local educational agencies shall locate, identify, and assess all private school children with disabilities, including religiously affiliated school age children, who have disabilities and are in need of special education and related services residing in the jurisdiction of the local educational agencies in accordance with Section 56301. The activities undertaken to carry out this responsibility for private school children with disabilities shall be comparable to activities undertaken in accordance with the provisions of clause (ii) of subparagraph (A) of paragraph (10) of subsection (a) of Section 1412 of Title 20 of the United States Code.
Change in Federal Law
With passage of IDEA 2004, there was a “shifting and sharing” of responsibilities between districts. Prior to this change, the District of Residence (DOR) had all responsibilities, such as Child Find and providing equitable services (commonly referred to as an Individual Service Plan or “ISP”) for students who resided in the district regardless of where the student attended private school. Now, the District of Location (DOL) of the private school that the student attends has the Child Find duty and also the duty to offer a Service Plan (SP, formerly “ISP”). To complicate the responsibilities, the DOR retained IEP responsibilities. Thus, if a student resided in one district and attended private school in another district, both districts had responsibilities.
IDEA 2004, and conforming state laws and codes, continue to provide that services in a SP (aka ISP) are not an individual entitlement. The laws do, however, increase a district's duties to consult with private school administrators and parents to get their input and consider that input when making a final determination regarding what services to offer.
In Orange County, the SELPAs have collaborated annually to do the above referenced consultation with private school representatives. The county-wide consultation is done in the fall. After taking this input into consideration, each SELPA and its member districts determine what services will be offered to students attending private schools within their respective jurisdictions. Each SELPA/District must then notify private schools of this determination. Since this change was brought by IDEA 2004, districts have been transitioning students who have been served by the DOR on SPs to the DOL. Additionally, students served by OCDE Alternative Education Programs are not deemed to be students enrolled by their parents in private schools.