Private and/or Non-Traditional Schools

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IDEA and Private Schools

Private schools are not covered under The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and are not required to provide a free appropriate education or special education services to children with disabilities.

The public schools may still have responsibilities for children with disabilities who are enrolled in a private school. This might occur when:

  • the public school determines that it cannot provide Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The public school must then identify and pay for a private school to provide services. This is at no cost to the parent.
  • a parent removes the child from public school and enrolls the child in private school. Under certain circumstances the parent may request reimbursement from the school system to pay for the private placement. The parents must tell the IEP team they disagree with the proposed IEP and placement and want the school system to reimburse them. If the school system does not agree to it, the parties must go before a due process hearing officer to determine if the public school provided a Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE).
  • the parent chooses to use a private school instead of public school at the parent’s expense, the student and the parent lose their individual rights to special education services. The school system may consider providing some services to students placed in private or home schools.

OSEP Private Schools Q&A

Section 504 and Private Schools

Private schools are bound by Section 504 and cannot discriminate against a child with a disability for reasons related to the disability and might be responsible for providing modifications, accommodations, and access to educational opportunities.

Find out more on section 504 (which will link to page we develop on 504)

For more info on Private and Non Traditional Schools please contact Pathfinder Parent Center: