Differences in Key Provisions in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for Eligible Children with Disabilities in Public and Private Schools:

Key Provisions in IDEA

Enrolled in Public School or Placed in Private School by the School District

Parentally Placed in Private School

Free appropriate public education (FAPE)

• FAPE must be made available to eligible children with disabilities. This includes special education and related services provided in conformity with an individualized education program (IEP) that meets IDEA requirements.

• Special education is specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability.

• Special education and related services are provided at no cost to the parent.


• No individual entitlement to FAPE or to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the child would receive if enrolled in public school.

• A child may receive “equitable services.” Each school district determines the equitable services it will provide to its population of parentally placed private school students, through consultation with private schools and parents.

• If a child is designated to receive equitable services, they are provided in conformity with a services plan and at no cost to parents.


Special education teacher certification requirements

• Public elementary, middle, and secondary school special education teachers must meet the special education teacher certification requirements in the law and regulations.[1]



Least restrictive environment requirements

• Children with disabilities must be educated with their nondisabled peers, to the maximum extent appropriate.



Discipline procedures

• Students with disabilities are entitled to certain protections related to IDEA’s disciplinary procedures.



Due process rights

• Parents may request a due process hearing if they have a dispute related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement of a child with a disability, the provision of FAPE, or the implementation of IDEA’s disciplinary procedures. This could include disputes regarding the development or implementation of an IEP and the location where services will be provided.


• Due process rights of parentally placed private school children and their parents are limited to a school district’s failure to comply with the child find requirements, including the evaluation requirements.[2]



[1] Special education teacher certification requirements do not apply to private school teachers of a child with a disability placed in a private school by a public agency.

[2] States are required to have policies and procedures to ensure that all children with disabilities residing in the state, who are in need of special education and related services, are identified, located, and evaluated (referred to as “child find”). School districts are required to conduct “child find” activities to identify, locate, and evaluate parentally placed children with disabilities enrolled in private schools located in the school district.