Certain services are available to students identified as eligible for special education who are unilaterally placed by their parents in private schools through a federal requirement called Equitable Participation. In Pennsylvania, the Intermediate Units are the agencies responsible for the implementation of the federal requirement for Equitable Participation.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the DCIU, as a sub-grantee, make provisions for children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools to benefit from special education services. However, there is no individual entitlement to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for these students. The DCIU is required to consult with representatives of private schools to determine which children will receive services, what services will be provided, how and where the services will be provided, and how the services will be evaluated.
An IDEA Equitable Participation evaluation determines whether a student is eligible for IDEA services and requires a two-part analysis: 1) the identification of an IDEA disability, and 2) a determination that the student requires specially designed instruction.
Students may be referred for psycho-educational testing if they are thought to have a disability and to be in need of specially designed instruction. An evaluation is available through either the student’s school district of residence or the DCIU. Evaluations are completed by a certified school psychologist.
Equitable Participation Consultation
Children who are identified as having a disability and in need of specially designed instruction may be referred for an EP consultation. At that time, a highly qualified teacher may observe the student and collaborate with the parent, classroom teacher, and school administrator to provide strategies and/or materials that will enable the student to access the curriculum.