Do Private Schools Have IEPs?

by | Jun 11, 2024

IEPs and Private Schools

IEPs, also known as a individualized education plan is a type of program that provides special education services to students. The individuals with disabilities education act (IDEA) is a federal ruling that guarantees students with special education needs the right to a public education. This means all public schools must provide some type of special education service for students. This does not apply to private schools though, they work independently of the public school system.

Since private schools are not federally funded, they are not required to build and maintain a special education program. This doesn’t outright mean that a private school won’t accept a student with an IEP. Many schools such as The Tenney School specializes in one-to-one education which is great for students with learning difference, ADHD, and high functioning ASD. Alternatively, if a private school is not equipped to handle a student’s needs they may deny enrollment.

Are There IEP Private Schools?

When it comes to the legal definition of IEP, no. However, many private schools will still provide special education services. They can go by different names such as learning plans or individual plans. Each state is different so it’s important to do the research for your state to see what private schools offer. Many private schools work with students who are on 504 based plans. These are accommodations that the school will develop for the student to make the classroom more accessible for them.

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504 Plan and Private Schools

Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on disability in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance, which includes many different private schools. Section 504 requires private schools that receive federal funding to provide reasonable accommodation and support to students with disabilities to ensure they have equal access to education. This can include the development of a plan like an IEP, often referred to as a “504 plan”.

Some private schools voluntarily provide services like IEPs for students with disabilities. It’s important for parents and guardians to inquire with the specific private school about their policies and practices regarding support for students with disabilities. Each private school may have its own process for identifying and providing services to students with special needs.

Disability Focused Private Schools

We briefly discussed the presence of private schools that provide IEP-like accommodations to students. These schools specialize in helping students in special education, it does not mean they are backed by federal funding. Public schools are mandated by FAPE and IDEA to build accommodations and a program for special education students.

On the other hand, private schools are not held to this same standard. A private school that specializes in special education may only accept certain students. This leads to many of these schools to become extremely focused in one area of special education rather than supporting all types.

Types of specialty schools include:

  • Schools for ASD
  • Schools for ADHD
  • School for the blind
  • School for the deaf

What is a Service Plan?

A service plan is a plan paid for by a public school or district to allow a student with a disability to attend a specialized private school that can work with them. If a school district feels they don’t have the means to meet the student’s needs and places them in private school instead. This allows the student to get the education they need at the expense of the district instead of the parent.

This type of case is harder to achieve but for parents in districts where IEP programs are lacking, this is a valid avenue to achieve the best education possible.

To conclude, private schools do not offer IEPs as they are coined term for a public school special education program. This doesn’t mean a private school won’t be able to provide the same type of service. Many private schools specialize in one or more types of special education and are great alternatives to consider for a student with special needs.


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