This section may be updated on a regular basis, as more private school equitable services questions arise.
Can private schools use Title II, Part A funds to pay for college courses?
Yes, but there are a few restrictions. The content of the college course must be an allowable use of Title II, Part A funds under the authorizing statute, in accordance with section 2103 (b)(3), and the course content must meet the specific needs of students enrolled in a private school, and not the school itself. Title II, Part A funds may not be used to meet the needs of a private school or the general needs of the students enrolled in the private school. In some instances, however, a program or activity that primarily benefits a private school’s students (because it addresses specific, rather than general, needs of the students) will also incidentally benefit the school, as allowed by 34 CFR section 76.658. For example, a college course titled “Development and Assessment of Individuals with Severe Disabilities” would be allowable, but a college course titled “Financial Reporting and Managerial Control” as part of a Business Administration degree would not be
In addition, using Title II, Part A funds for college courses is at the discretion of the host LEA. If the LEA does not allow its own teachers, principals and other school leaders to use Title II, Part A funds to pay for college courses, the LEA is not obligated to allow private schools to use Title II, Part A funds for college courses. If the LEA does allow teachers, principals and other school leaders to attend college courses funded from Title II, Part A, then the LEA must allow private schools to do the same.
May Title II, Part A funds be used to pay for a private school teacher’s attendance at a professional conference?
In order to be an allowable activity under Title II, including for private school participants, attendance at a professional conference must meet certain requirements:
- The activity must be an allowable Title II activity and meet the definition of professional development where applicable (sections 2103(b)(3) and 8101(42)).
- The activity must serve to meet the needs of the private school teacher(s) as identified through the consultation process (section 8501(c)).
- The activity must be supplemental in nature, and may not supplant the professional development that the private school would otherwise provide absent the Title II, Part A services (34 CFR § 8(a)).
- The activity must be a reasonable and necessary expense (2 CFR § 403(a)).
- The services must be secular, neutral, and nonideological (section 8501(a)(2)).
Professional Development: Under Title II, Part A, an LEA may “provide high quality, personalized professional development that is evidence-based, to the extent that the state (in consultation with LEAs in the state) has determined that evidence is reasonably available, for teachers, instructional leadership teams, principals, or other school leaders, that is focused on improving teaching and student learning and achievement.” Professional development services and programs must meet the definition of “professional development” in section 8101(42), which requires that the activity is both (1) part of the strategies for providing educators with the knowledge and skills necessary to enable students to succeed in a well-rounded education; and (2) “sustained (not stand-alone, 1-day, or short term workshops), intensive, collaborative, job-embedded, data driven, and classroom focused.”
Because many conferences are short-term or are stand-alone, they may not meet this definition as an allowable expenditure under section 2103(b)(3) without further integration as part of a comprehensive plan for professional development for the teacher or teachers. However, if a private school official can demonstrate, through consultation with an LEA, that attendance at a short-term conference is part of a sustained and comprehensive professional development plan for the teacher that meets these Title II, Part A requirements, including the statutory definition of professional development, then an LEA may use Title II, Part A funds for costs associated with a private school teacher’s participation in the conference. Furthermore, depending on the content and substance of the conference, participation may be allowable under other specifically-defined activities in Title II, Part A, which do not need to meet the definition of professional development under section 8101(42). For example, sections 2103(b)(3)(H), (J), (K) and (L) allow training for selecting and implementing formative and classroom-based assessments, for identifying gifted and talented students, for supporting instructional services provided by effective school library programs, and for preventing and recognizing child sexual abuse.
Secular, Neutral, Nonideological Content: A conference conducted by a religious organization often includes both secular and religious content. If an otherwise allowable professional conference is conducted by a religious organization, an LEA may pay for only a teacher’s participation in that portion of the conference program that is secular, neutral, and nonideological. In determining the costs associated with a private school teacher’s participation in the conference, the LEA would need to (1) determine the sessions of the conference that are secular, neutral, and nonideological professional development; and (2) apply that percentage against the overall costs of attending the conference as a whole. For professional development activities, whether in-person or via a virtual or online format, an LEA might require that the private school teacher provide both titles and descriptions of the sessions the teacher expects to attend, as well as some form of verification that he or she participated in the sessions.
A conference runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (with an hour for lunch). If for the 8 hours of work- time the teacher spends six hours attending or participating in secular sessions that meet the Title II requirements above, the LEA could use Title II, Part A funds to pay 75% of the registration and travel costs, since the teacher has spent 75% of the full-day conference time attending or participating in secular activities.
Timely and Meaningful Consultation: It is important to note that any form of professional development for private school teachers with Title II, Part A funds must be a topic of timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials. Such consultation must take place before the LEA makes any decision that will impact the participation of private school teachers in the Title II, Part A program. Thus, the LEA, in consultation with private school officials, would need to discuss the needs of private school teachers as related to improving teaching and student learning and achievement in their classrooms. Based on the needs of the private school teachers, the LEA would then decide the kind of professional development that would serve to meet those needs.
Supplement not Supplant; Reasonable and Necessary: In addition, as with all Title II, Part A professional development, the costs must be supplemental in nature, and may not supplant any professional development activity that the private school would otherwise provide absent the Title II, Part A services (34 CFR § 299.8). Finally, the activity must be “reasonable and necessary” (2 CFR § 200.403(a)).
If a private school student lives in a different school district than where the student attends private school, which LEA is responsible for including the student in their equitable services allocation calculation – the LEA in which the student resides, or the LEA in which the student attends school?
The LEA where eligible students reside is required to provide Title I, Part A services regardless of where student attends private school. In many cases, LEAs enter into agreements with neighboring LEAs to ensure these students receive services.
However, in the case of programs under Title VIII (such as Title II, Part A and Title IV, Part A) of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the LEA where the private school is located provides the services for eligible private school students, their teachers, and their families.