FAPE Focus: Equitable Services for Students in Virtual Schools

You know that LEAs have child find responsibilities for students enrolled in private schools that are located within the district’s boundaries, regardless of where the student resides. And that districts provide equitable services to students with disabilities enrolled in private schools that are located within the district’s boundaries, even if the student lives in another district. But what if the private school is a virtual school? What LEA is responsible for child find and equitable services when the students and educators may be scattered across the state – or even the country? OSEP recently provided guidance on this issue. According to OSEP, each state has discretion to determine how to meet the child find and equitable services obligations for students attending virtual private schools. OSEP states that a reasonable option is for the district where the student resides and receives instruction to be responsible, while noting that this may result in multiple districts being responsible for different students at the same school. OSEP does not suggest any alternative options but advises SEAs to work with LEAs and virtual private schools to make a determination with a “reasonable rationale.” Keep an eye out for state guidance as well as for students who may be impacted.