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 final regulations for the reauthorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) became effective on October 13, 2006. IDEA and its implementing regulations contain a number of significant changes from the preexisting law and regulations for parentally-placed private school children with disabilities. IDEA now requires that the local educational agency (LEA, Intermediate Units in PA) after consultation with private school representatives, conduct a thorough child find process to determine the number of parentally-placed children with disabilities attending private schools located in the LEA. The LEAs are required to spend a proportionate amount of IDEA Part B funds to provide services to children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private schools. The Intermediate Units are not required to offer the same services that would be offered as a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the public school.