IDEA 2004 OSEP Guidance on Parentally Placed Private School Students- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

Special Education

IDEA 2004 OSEP Guidance on Parentally Placed Private School Students

To:Superintendents, Special Education Administrators, and other Interested Parties
From:David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education
Date:April 3, 2006


The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) at the U.S. Department of Education has recently issued a guidance document on IDEA 2004 that changes our understanding of school districts' responsibilities for private school students from other states attending school in Massachusetts and supercedes guidance related to out-of-state residents provided in the Administrative Advisory SPED 2006-3. The OSEP guidance, entitled Questions and Answers On Serving Children With Disabilities Placed by Their Parents at Private Schools, is available through a link at The OSEP guidance document makes clear that districts must include consideration of the needs of out-of-state students when planning the expenditure of federal special education funds.

The OSEP guidance states that all districts are required to:

  1. Include out-of-state students in child find activities that districts must conduct in all private schools in the district.
  2. Evaluate any out-of-state student attending school in the district who is referred for evaluation if evaluation is deemed necessary to determine if the student is eligible for special education or services. The school district may accept the evaluation information available from the other state and may proceed directly to a determination of services, if necessary.
  3. Calculate the federal "proportionate share," which is the amount of federal funds that should be spent on special education for students enrolled by their parents in private schools. It is determined by finding the ratio of students with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools to the total number of public and private students with disabilities for whom the district is responsible, and applying that ratio to the Part B federal grant.
  4. Consult with the private schools on the provision of services to parentally placed private school students. This requirement is similar to the consultation requirements under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) for private school students.
  5. Expend the proportionate share of federal funds on services to private school students and document the expenditure.

Please note: Private school students found eligible for special education services who are not residents of Massachusetts are not required to have an IEP. Out-of-state residents eligible for services in Massachusetts receive services from the proportionate share of federal funds according to a services plan.

The Department will provide additional information on this topic in the near future. Until additional information is provided if a district receives a referral for an out-of-state resident attending private school in the district, evaluation procedures should be implemented immediately. If evaluation is deemed unnecessary because the district accepts the resident district finding of eligibility, the district must immediately calculate the proportionate share of federal funds to determine if funding is available to serve additional private school students at this time.

Last Updated: April 4, 2006

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