In 2018 and 2019, California provided special education services to roughly 795,047 individuals ranging from newborn through the age of 22, according to the California Department of Education. Various settings allow these children to receive a free education that can also accommodate their individual needs, whether those are related to autism, visual impairments, intellectual disabilities or another area.

To the extent that it is possible, public school students with special needs must be educated in a regular classroom alongside their non-disabled peers. Sometimes, however, this is not possible. In those cases, alternative settings have to be found to accommodate the services a child needs in order to receive an adequate education.

This is where a Nonpublic School (NPS) placement can help. Nonpublic school students make up about 1.6 percent of California’s special education population. Though the NPS placement gets implemented less frequently than other special needs services out there, parents should be aware this option exists and that their child may have a right to it based on their disability.

How Does a NPS Work?

Placement for special needs students is usually determined by something called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This is a written document that details the education and related services a child with special needs requires. It normally outlines general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, and non-academic activities in addition to including goals by which a child’s progress can be measured.

The IEP should be the main driver of where a child with special needs ultimately gets placed. In some cases, however, an IEP can’t be implemented in a public school setting because of the extent of the child’s special needs.

When this happens, the public school district must pay for the aforementioned NPS. A child attending the NPS has the same rights as any other child in the public school system, including the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The school district funds the placement.

Who Needs a NPS?

Nonpublic schools are designed to care for some of the school system’s most vulnerable students. Those on the moderate to severe end of the autism spectrum, for example, may be placed in these schools. However, autism is not the only condition that makes a child eligible for NPS placement. Those with extreme disabilities, both physical and emotional, may also qualify. The determining factor is usually whether the child’s disability is so severe it becomes a hurdle for getting an education through a regular public school setup.

While the NPS is normally considered a last resort for both schools and parents, it is important to know that it exists as an option.

The Law Office of Jennifer Chang believes in protecting students’ rights to a free and appropriate education under both federal and state laws. If your child is eligible to receive special education and is not getting the appropriate services or accommodations, Jennifer Chang, special education attorney will fight vigorously on your family’s behalf. Please reach out to her today or call (323) 931-5270 to discuss your case.