When is a child with a disability able to be placed in a special education approved private day school?
A.R.S. 15-765(D) requires that a PEA must first have a completed evaluation and that that placement in the private day school is because the PEA is unable to provide satisfactory education and services through its own facilities and personnel. If a new or transferring student is in the process of an evaluation or IEP meeting to determine the appropriate placement and is not already in an approved private day school, those students are not allowed to be placed within private day programs by the PEA until the process is completed and the PEA meets the criteria outlined in statute.
Do PEAs have to abide by standard procurement bidding processes for student with disabilities placed in a private day school?
PEAs have exceptions when placing students with disabilities in private day schools. A.R.S. 15-213(A)(1) indicates that the competitive bidding process can be ignored for students meeting the criteria of A.R.S. 15-765(D). AAC R7-2-1002(C)(8) also supports how these types of placements are exempt from standard procurement practices. For federal purposes, PEAs can use 2 C.F.R. § 200.320(c)(2) for noncompetitive procurement flexibility. Since the IEP team considers proximity to home as a factor along with many other elements, this eventually leads to a single source in providing the appropriate services for the student meeting the criteria of A.R.S. 15-765(D).
How do approvals work from one fiscal year to the next for placements over the year, such as extended school year?
Approvals for a special education private day school align with the standard calendars for the placing PEA for a year and ends when the PEA’s following year calendar begins to minimize disruption of placements. As an example, let us use a PEA which operated from July 20, 2021, to May 10, 2022, and the following year the school year began on July 20, 2022. The approval status for a private day school approved for the 2021 to 2022 school year would last until July 19, 2022, to respect ESY services. As soon as July 20, 2022, began the PEA would have to consider the current year’s approval status for the private day school. If there are any odd use cases, please contact the private day inbox and we can consider specific scenarios.
When contracting with a private day school for a variety of services (ex. IEP writing, transportation), where does responsibility for educating the child remain?
The responsibility for a publicly placed student with a disability will always remain with the district of residence that develops and implements the IEP. The public education agency is also responsible for assuring the child is provided a FAPE which means at no cost to the parent for the child’s education.
Who determines whether a child obtains a high school credit based upon a curriculum offered within a private day school?
The public education agency placing the child with a disability is responsible for determining if credit is earned based on the private day school’s curriculum. PEAs should work with the private day school for the classes that are provided to their students to determine how they are accessing the general education curriculum.
How should a public education agency calendar for child with disabilities placed in a private day school?
PEAs should ensure that students placed within a private day school are offered similar number of school days and time as their general education peers. While private day school and students with disabilities operate differently, the objective is that the PEA ensures the same access as general education to the greatest degree possible.
How should I escalate any of the above concerns regarding children with disabilities placed within a private day school?
PEAs, parents, and private day schools should first work out concerns and disagreements between each respective party first. In the event a child is not being afforded a FAPE regarding a private day school and steps have already been taken with the PEA, then please contact the private day school specialist for further assistance.