Private and Non-Traditional Schools
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 a 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 their own expense. In such cases, the student and the parent lose their individual rights to special education services. However, the school system may consider providing some services to students placed in private or home schools.
OSEP Q & A – Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools
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. In addition, they may be responsible for providing modifications, accommodations, and access to educational opportunities.
Find out more about Section 504.
USDOE Fact Sheet – Know Your Rights: Students with Disabilities in Charter Schools
Georgia Cyber Academy – Frequently Asked Questions
Georgia Virtual School – Frequently Asked Questions
Find out more about Home Schooling from the Georgia DOE
Find out more about Charter Schools from the Georgia DOE
Read: 20 Questions if Considering a Virtual School for a Special Needs Child
Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program (GSNS)
The Georgia Special Needs Scholarship (GSNS) Program (also known as SB10) is a parental choice program for students attending Georgia public schools who are served under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). To qualify for the program a student must:
- Have a parent/guardian who currently lives in Georgia and has been a resident for at least one calendar year.
- Be enrolled and attended a Georgia public school (grades K – 12) the entire preceding school year. (Pre‐school special education students do not qualify. A student must complete a full school year in kindergarten before he/she can be eligible.)
- Have been reported during student counts conducted in October and March of the preceding year.
- Must have received special education services at some point during the preceding school year under an IEP as reported in student count or student record.
Find out more about GSNS.