Federal Programs Consultation
Now is the time when private school officials should be engaging in consultation with the local school district (LEA) regarding participation of students and teachers in federal program benefits and services for the coming school year. Consutation requirements may be found here.
US Department of Education Equitable Services Directives
The US Department of Education has released a letter sent to all chief state school officers reminding them of their responsibility to provide equitable services to students and teachers in private and religious schools. The letter outlines four initiatives the Department will be undertaking to assist state officials with compliance. Those who participate in the consultation processes for obtaining services for students and teachers should download this document and have it as a reference when meeting with local educational agencies.
The document can be downloaded here.
Sequester and Education Budget Issues
Federal programs will be cut by 5.2% next year. Although the Department of Education guidance indicates that districts may not hold back program funding issued for the current school year, the Department is advising districts to seek waivers so they may carry-over funds to mitigate expected shortfalls next year. Since this will impact private school participation, LEAs should consult with private school officials before decisions are made that will affect them.
Now is the time to begin consultation with the LEA regarding programs for next year. Be sure to ask for the funding allocations and how and where cuts have been made - they must be made equitably for both public and private school students.
Title II-A and Federal Budget
Some LEAs have informed private school personnel that Title II-A (which our schools use for professional development activitres) will not be funded next year. That is INCORRECT.
The current ESEA and Improving Teacher Quality State Grants program requirements remain in effect. LEAs and private school officials should engage in timely and meaningful consultation regarding Title II, Part A equitable services.
Note: If an LEA uses Title II-A funds to support coaches and mentor teachers for their public schools this is considered professional development, NOT class size reduction, and those funds must be counted as professional development in calculating the share of Title II-a funds that the LEA spends and are subject to equitable sharing for private and religious schools.
IDEA and 504
IDEA is a federal education law that provides services to some students in private schools., depending upon the funding available.
504 is a civil rights law that indicated the nature of a person's disability and the accommondations required. Private schools, even if they participate in the federal nutrition programs, are not required to write 504 plans -- that is the responsibility of the local public school district. The Catholic school accommodations plan is sufficient. See this article pertaiinig to 504 plans.