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ESEA Programs for Private Nonprofit Schools

Letter Head: Tom Torlakson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, California Department of Education

March 11, 2013

Dear County and District Superintendents, Charter School Administrators, Categorical Program Directors, and District Business Officers:


The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires public school districts, including charter districts, to provide equitable programs and services to private nonprofit school students and teachers eligible to participate in six federal education programs, Titles I–IV. A copy of the “Elementary and Secondary Education Act Programs in Which Private Nonprofit School Students and Teachers are Eligible to Participate” has been enclosed for your reference.

The purposes of this letter are:

  • To provide guidance and resources concerning private nonprofit school participation to persons new to ESEA programs and services

  • To encourage public school districts to strengthen their communication with eligible private nonprofit schools as mandated by the ESEA

Section 9501(c)(3) of the ESEA requires the local educational agency (LEA) to consult with private nonprofit school officials in a “timely and meaningful” fashion. Private nonprofit school participation requirements cannot be satisfied simply by inviting private nonprofit schools to participate in programs and/or activities designed for public school students, teachers, or other education personnel. For more information, see the March 2009 federal document entitled Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title IX, Part E, Uniform Provisions, Subpart I—Private Schools at

For consultation to be meaningful and private nonprofit school participation to be equitable, private school officials need timely, clear information about fiscal resources and services. To allow for timely private school needs assessment and program design, it is recommended that consultation begin prior to the new school year. Private schools should be contacted and asked if they would like to participate in all programs related to Titles I–IV. Contact should also be made before competitive grant applications are developed by an LEA. Collaborative support from district program and fiscal staff, including those staff developing competitive grant applications, is central to smooth consultation.

Information concerning topics that should be discussed during the consultation process between public and private school officials can be found on the California Department of Education (CDE) Private Schools Guidance Document Web page at

Private schools never receive funding directly from an LEA. Private schools receive programs and services through the LEA. Section 9501(a)(4) of the ESEA requires that expenditures for services to private school students, teachers, and other educational personnel be equal to the expenditures for their public school counterparts, with consideration of the number and educational needs of the children to be served. As with other decisions affecting services to private nonprofit school students, LEAs should consult with private school officials on the method for determining equal expenditures, and the resulting methodology should reasonably reflect the number and educational needs of public and private school students.

For additional information as to how to determine educational needs and equitable funding for Title I services for students in private schools, go to the CDE Title I Services for Students in Private Schools Web page at For options as to how to determine educational needs and equitable funding for Titles II–IV, see the Non-Regulatory Guidance for Title IX, Part E, Uniform Provisions, Subpart I—Private Schools document mentioned earlier.

If you have any questions concerning this letter, please contact Jane Ross, Education Programs Consultant, Title II Leadership Office, by phone at 916-445-7331 or by e-mail at


Tom Torlakson


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