Updated 9/14/2020


IDEA '04 describes services for students in private school in two separate and very distinct ways:

1) Students seeking FAPE (Free, Appropriate Public Education) from a public school who are enrolled unilaterally in private or non-public programs by their parents, when public schools are perceived to have failed to offer FAPE.

2) Students for whom FAPE is not an issue, but who are seeking special education services to supplement their private or parochial school programs.

This section of the Procedures Guide deals only with elementary and secondary students that fall within category 2 above. These are students whose parents have chosen a private education for personal or religious reasons. While the federal law states that the district is required to spend a proportional amount of federal funding on these students, there is no individual entitlement to special education services for these students. Local Education Agencies are required to locate, identify and assess students with special needs in private school settings. Once assessed, these students can be served according to the Contra Costa SELPA Service Plan.

See the "Child Find" section of the Procedures Guide for more information.

Local Procedures
After consultation with representatives of private schools serving children with disabilities regarding how best to provide special education services, Contra Costa SELPA has selected a consultation model of service delivery. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and the County Office of Education (COE) will provide consultation related to the private school curriculum and instruction upon request of the parent of a child with disabilities or a private school service provider. Consultation can be provided by the following educational specialists:

  • Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Resource Specialist/Instructional Support Provider
  • School Psychologist
  • Hearing Specialist
  • Vision Specialist

Private schools that serve students with disabilities are also eligible to attend staff development activities conducted by the Contra Costa SELPA. The LEA offering a Service Plan to a private school student should also refer parents or private schools that desire to be on the SELPA's mailing list for staff development to the SELPA office at 925 827-0949 x 10. The SELPA will notify private schools and parents through their mailing list of staff development opportunities.

Child Find Requirements
Local Education Agencies are required by Federal Law to locate students suspected to have disabilities within their attendance boundaries. This requirement extends to private, parochial and home-school settings. Each LEA will notify the private and parochial school of the availability of special education services every year. In addition, the Contra Costa SELPA will place advertisements in local newspapers describing parents' right to an assessment for eligibility for special education services. Schools and parents will be directed to refer suspected children to their local public school for evaluation for eligibility.

Assessment Requirements
Assessments of students in private schools must be conducted according to the same legal requirements as a public school student suspected of having a disability. When a parent suspects that a student may have a disability, they will make a referral to the school district in which the private school is located. This district will ultimately be responsible for conducting the assessment and providing a service plan if the student is found to be eligible for Special Education. However, in Contra Costa County, three of the four SELPAs (Contra Costa SELPA, West Contra Costa, and Mt. Diablo) have agreed to seek written parent permission to notify the student's district of residence of the referral, and allow the district of residence to conduct the assessment. The assessment team from the district of residence, if permission is obtained, or the district of service will develop an assessment plan.
The assessment team may want to meet with the staff of the private school prior to developing the assessment plan. The plan will be provided to the parents and upon agreement; the assessment will be conducted in all areas of suspected disability and in accordance with timelines. Following the assessment, the team will invite the parents and, if appropriate, private school staff, to a meeting to discuss the assessment results and eligibility.

Initial Meeting Requirements

  • The DOL will make an eligibility decision based on their assessment findings, and with written parental permission invite the DOR to the IEP meeting. The DOR is ultimately responsible for offering FAPE if the student is found eligible for special education. If the DOR is unable to attend the initial IEP meeting to determine eligibility, and the student is found eligible for special education, the DOR has 30 days from the date of the initial meeting to offer FAPE. Please see the "Eligibility" and "Individual Education Program" section of the Procedures Guide for more information.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability are interested in enrolling their child in public school, or are unsure about enrolling their child in public school, the IEP team shall develop an IEP for the child. If the parents of a private school child with a disability agree with and consent to the IEP developed by the IEP team, the IEP shall be implemented without undue delay following the IEP team meeting.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability agree with, but decline the IEP developed by the IEP team, the IEP team shall ask the parent to check the box on the IEP Contra Costa SELPA Signature and Parent Consent page that states: "Student enrolled in private school by their parents." Also add, "Refer to Individual Service Plan", if appropriate.\
  • Document in the comments section of the IEP that while the parents agree that their child has been offered a free appropriate public education, including appropriate services in special education, that they are voluntarily placing their child in a private school. Request the LEA to develop a Service Plan, on the LEA Service Plan form in accordance with this policy and federal and state laws and regulations. Continuing eligibility for special education must be revisited at least every three years.
  • In order to ensure that the parents' intentions are clear, the district of residence shall request that the parents sign the following statement on a form entitled Certification of Parent's Decision Not to Enroll in Public School: We/I the Parent(s) of ____ hereby certify that we are not interested in enrolling our child, in a public school. We are not interested in the development of an IEP for our child or in the _____________ (District of residence) offer of a free appropriate public education. We are only interested in a Service Plan from the ___________ school district, which is the district where, our choice of the private school in which we are placing our child is located. We have received the Contra Costa SELPA Notice of Parents' Rights. We understand the notice and that we may place our child in a public school at any time.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability are clearly not interested in enrolling their child in public school, and if the child is eligible for special education and related services as a child with a disability, the district of residence shall request the LEA where the private school is located to develop a Service Plan.

Parents must request that a service on the plan be initiated by notifying the person responsible for the implementation, as specified on the plan. The service plan provider will complete a Service Plan in the Special Education Information System (SEIS) using the code for private school student (900, other special education/related services). Districts are required to utilize a proportionate share of their special education federal funds to provide services to parentally placed private school students with disabilities. The Contra Costa SELPA has determined that a proportionate amount of federal funding may have been spent on the private school student when 5 hours of consultation have been completed. This is neither a limit nor minimum, only an average to be used as a guideline. The provider should contact the district administrator for further instructions when the five hours have been reached. Consultation hours will be documented on a Private School Consultation Log that will be forwarded to the special education administrator monthly if service has been provided.

IEP Meetings after the Initial IEP Team Meeting
The requirement for annual and 3-year reviews continues to be the responsibility of the school district of residence for students enrolled in private schools, but if no direct services are being provided, this requirement is minimized. All children with disabilities eligible for special education who reside in the District of Residence are entitled to receive a FAPE from the District of Residence if they are enrolled in public school. One year after an eligible private school child's initial IEP team meeting and annually thereafter, the District of Residence shall notify the child's parents in writing that the District of Residence:

  • Continues to offer a FAPE in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations;
  • Will schedule an IEP team meeting for their child in order to offer the child a FAPE, subject to assessment, if appropriate, if the parents express an interest in enrolling their child in public school.

An annual notice to the parents reminding them of their right to participate in a service plan, request an assessment or enroll in public school is sufficient. An annual notice should be sent to all identified private school students on the anniversary of their eligibility determination.

Districts should mail information to the parents when…

Meetings for parents and private school providers are offered (SELPA will provide flyers.)

Opportunities for staff development are available (SELPA will provide flyers.)

Parents have expressed an interest in enrolling the child in public school and an IEP meeting is required.

Annually by a letter from the special education administrator including a copy of Parent Rights.


Request for Special Education Consultation for Pupils Enrolled by their Parents in Private Schools
When a parent is offered a service plan for consultation services, the district of service special education administrator shall be responsible for the following:

1. Notify the consultant(s) listed on the plan that they will be contacted by the parent or private school

  • The assignment is not part of a caseload; however, the administrator should review the implications of such assignments on the consultant's workload.

2. Instruct the consultant(s) of the parameters of service:

  • Phone contact only.
  • References or sources for finding further information and materials may be provided. No materials may be provided or recommended.
  • No direct service will be provided.
  • No recommendation or suggestion for additional service will be made other than to offer an IEP meeting.
  • No recommendation or referral to other providers will be made.
  • The professional's obligation and the obvious need for direct service have been met by the district's offer of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • Consultation is not related to an individual child or their needs. "Advice" about the needs of a specific child shall not be given. When consultation is requested from the speech/language pathologist, the special education administrator and consultant should remember that ethically, a professional may not instruct or treat solely by correspondence or through a third party. Providing general information of an educational nature is allowed.
  • The consultant or consultation should not refer to the child's IEP or assessment.
  • Generally, contact for one year shall be limited to approximately five hours. The provider should contact the administrator when five hours have been provided.
  • The district's responsibility will have been reached when the total number of hours reaches a calculated total of five hours per identified private school student in the district.
  • Services should be logged and documented. Documentation should be provided to the district administrator monthly.
  • Once the annual service limit has been reached it is the shared responsibility of the consultant and the administrator to communicate and end the consultation service.

3. Document the assignment of staff
4. Collect log sheets from consultant service providers
5. Calculate and monitor annual service limits
6. Include such students in the Pupil Count

Consultation may include:

  • Providing general information of an educational nature
  • Providing references for sources for further information and materials.
  • Providing information on accommodations and modifications possibilities.
  • Providing information about phonemic awareness for articulation students.
  • Providing information on vocabulary development, use of visual cues, and eliciting language through questioning for language development students.
  • Providing information on methods to encourage the students' oral success and comfort in the classroom for fluency students.
  • Providing information on preferential seating, visual cueing and the redundancy of language for hearing impaired students.

Consultation may not include:

  • Recommending or referral to other providers.
  • Providing materials or direct services.
  • Advice about an individual student or his needs.
  • Providing "treatment" through a third party.
  • Direct observation of student or review of work samples.

Questions about these instructions may be addressed by contacting the SELPA office.

Preschool Age Students in Private Settings
State and Federal Preschool Regulations cover students ages 3 to 5 inclusively, and are very different from the Private School provisions for elementary and secondary students. Preschool age students in private settings, or not enrolled in any school, continue to be eligible for direct special education services from their district of residence until their sixth birthday or until they enroll in elementary school transitional kindergarten. Occasionally, parents of young children with disabilities prefer to keep their kindergarten-age eligible children in preschool for an extra year. These children can continue to receive direct special education services until their sixth birthday, as long as the private school they attend has not promoted them to a transitional kindergarten or kindergarten level class.



34 CFR §§300.130-300.144


Click here to open and print: "Procedures Guide-Private School" updated 9/2020

Click here to open and print: Private School Forms