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Equitable Services Ombudsman FAQs

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding the Equitable Services Ombudsman.

The Equitable Services Ombudsman Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) are intended to help local educational agencies (LEAs), understand the statutory requirements for statewide equitable services for eligible children (students) attending private elementary and secondary schools under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), reauthorized as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the role of the Equitable Services Ombudsman designated by the state educational agency (SEA) under the ESSA?
    The SEA designated Equitable Services Ombudsman is responsible for:

    • Monitoring and enforcing the requirements of the ESSA Section 1117 “Participation of Children enrolled in Private Schools” and the ESSA Section 8501 “Participation by Private School Children and Teachers” to ensure equitable services are provided for private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel (ESSA sections 1117[a][3][B] and 8501[a][3][B]).

    • Receiving the results of the equitable services consultation agreement between the LEA and the appropriate private school officials according to the ESSA Section 1117(b)(1).
  2. When shall the LEA obligate the funds for equitable services?
    The LEA shall obligate the funds for equitable services in the fiscal year for which the funds are received by the agency (ESSA sections 1117[a][4][B] and 8501[a][4][B]).
  3. How does the LEA determine the expenditures for educational services and other benefits to eligible private school students?
    Expenditures for educational services and other benefits provided for eligible private school students, their teachers, and other educational personnel serving those students shall be equal, taking into account the number and educational needs of the students to be served, to the expenditures for participating public school students (ESSA Section 8501[a][4][A]; 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 200.63[a][1]).
  4. What issues may be discussed during the equitable services consultation to ensure timely and meaningful consultation?

    To ensure timely and meaningful consultation, a SEA, LEA, educational service agency, consortium of those agencies, or entity shall consult with appropriate private school officials.

    Such agency and private school officials shall both have the goal of reaching agreement on how to provide equitable and effective programs for eligible private school children, on issues such:

    (A) how the children’s needs will be identified;

    (B) what services will be offered;

    (C) how, where, and by whom the services will be provided;

    (D) how the services will be assessed and how the results of the assessment will be used to improve those services;

    (E) the size and scope of the equitable services to be provided to the eligible private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel, the amount of funds available for those services, and how that amount is determined;

    (F) how and when the agency, consortium, or entity will make decisions about the delivery of services, including a thorough consideration and analysis of the views of the private school officials on the provision of services through potential third-party providers; and

    (G) whether the agency, consortium, or entity shall provide services directly or through a separate government agency, consortium, or entity, or through a third-party contractor; and

    (H) whether to provide equitable services to eligible private school children:

    (i) by creating a pool or pools of funds with all of the funds allocated under subsection (a)(4)(C) based on all the children from low-income families in a participating school attendance area who attend private schools; or

    (ii) in the agency’s participating school attendance area who attend private schools with the proportion of funds allocated under subsection (a)(4)(C) based on the number of children from low-income families who attend private schools (ESSA 1117(b)(1); 34 CFR 200.63[b]).

  5. When should the equitable services required consultation occur?
    The consultation required shall occur before the public agency makes any decision that affects the opportunities of eligible private school children, teachers, and other educational personnel to participate in programs under the ESSA, and shall continue throughout the implementation and assessment of activities (ESSA Section 8501[c][3]; 34 CFR 200.63[a]).
  6. What happens if a public education agency disagrees with the views of the private school officials on the provision of services through a contract, the agency, consortium, or entity?
    If the public education agency disagrees with the views of the private school officials on the provision of services through a contract, the agency shall provide to the private school officials a written explanation of the reasons why the LEA has chosen not to use a contractor (ESSA Section 8501[c][2]; 34 CFR 200.63 [d][1][ii]).
  7. Who shall provide notice to the private school officials of the allocation of funds for educational services and other benefits for eligible private school students?
    The SEA shall provide notice in a timely manner to the appropriate private school officials in the state of the allocation of funds for educational services and other benefits that the LEA has determined is available for eligible private school students (ESSA sections 1117[a][4][C] and 8501[a][4][C]).
  8. What are the goals of the equitable services consultation?

    The LEA shall consult with appropriate private school officials during the design and development of the LEA's programs in a timely and meaningful manner:

    • The LEA and private school officials shall both have the goal of reaching an agreement with how to provide equitable and effective programs for eligible private school children.

    • The LEA shall transmit the results of the consultation agreement to the Ombudsman designated under the ESSA Section 1117 (a)(3)(B).

    • The LEA shall provide in writing to private school officials the reasons why the LEA disagrees with the views of private school officials with respect to an issue described in the consultation agreement.

    • The LEA shall maintain in the agency’s records and provide to the SEA involved a written affirmation signed by officials of each participating private school that the equitable services consultation required by the ESSA sections 1117 and 8501 has occurred (ESSA sections 1117[b] and 8501[b]).
  9. What consultation documentation shall be provided to the SEA?

    The LEA shall provide to the SEA:

    • Documentation that the equitable services consultation has, or attempts at such consultation have, taken place.

    • A written affirmation signed by officials of each participating private school that the equitable services consultation required by the ESSA sections 1117 and 8501 has occurred (ESSA sections 1117[b][5] and 8501[b][5]).
  10. How does the LEA transmit the results of the equitable services consultation agreement to the Ombudsman?
    The LEA shall transmit the results of the equitable services consultation agreement to the Ombudsman designated by the SEA under the ESSA Section 1117(a)(3)(B) using the California Department of Education's Consolidated Application Reporting System.
  11. When may the private school officials submit a complaint to the SEA?

    Private school officials have the right to file a complaint with the SEA if the LEA:

    • did not engage in consultation that was meaningful and timely;

    • did not give due consideration to the views of the private school official;

    • did not make a decision that treats the private school students equitably; or

    • was found noncompliant with the requirements of the ESSA regarding the equitable services to children, staff, and families of the children participating in private schools (ESSA sections 1117[b][6][A] and 8501[c][6][A]).
  12. How may the private school officials submit a complaint to the SEA?
    The private school officials are recommended to file a complaint with the LEA through the LEA uniform complaint process (UCP) or they can file a complaint directly with the SEA through the state UPC office.
  13. When shall the SEA provide equitable services directly or through contracts with public or private agencies, organizations, or institutions?
    The SEA shall provide services directly or through contracts with public or private agencies, organizations, or institutions, if the appropriate private school officials have requested that the SEA provide such services directly; and the private school officials have demonstrated that the LEA involved has not met the requirements of this section in accordance with the procedures for making such a request, as prescribed by the SEA (ESSA sections 1117[b][6][C] and 8501[c][6][C]).
  14. Who is responsible for providing equitable services for students, teachers, and families in private schools?
    After timely and meaningful consultation with appropriate private school officials, the LEA shall provide eligible children on an equitable basis, as requested by the officials to best meet the needs of the eligible children, special educational services, instructional services, counseling, mentoring, one-on-one tutoring, or other benefits (such as dual or concurrent enrollment, educational radio and television, computer equipment and materials, other technology, and mobile educational services and equipment). In addition, the LEA shall ensure that the teachers and families of the participating children enrolled in private schools receive and participate in services and activities on an equitable basis developed pursuant to the ESSA Section 1116 (ESSA sections 1117[a][1] and 8501[a][1]; 34 CFR 299.8).
  15. Who is responsible for determining the proportional share of funds allocated for equitable services for students, teachers, and families in private schools?
    The LEA shall determine the proportional share of funds allocated for equitable services based on the total amount of funds received by the LEA prior to any allowable expenditures or transfers by the LEA (ESSA Section 1117[a][4][A][ii]).
  16. Who has the final authority to calculate the number of children who are from low-income families and attend private schools?
    The LEA has the final authority to calculate the number of children, ages 5 through 17, who are from low-income families and attend private schools (ESSA Section 1117[c][1]).
  17. Who has control of the public funds used to provide equitable services for eligible children, teachers, and families of the participating children in private schools?
    The control of funds used to provide equitable services under the ESSA sections 1117 and 8501, and title to materials, equipment, and property purchased with those funds, shall be in a public agency for the uses and purposes provided in the ESSA, and a public agency shall administer the funds and property (ESSA sections 1117[d][1] and 8501[d][1]; 34 CFR 299.9).
  18. How does the LEA maintain control of the public funds to provide equitable services for eligible children, teachers, and families of the participating children in private schools?
    The LEA may place equipment and supplies in a private school for the period of time needed for the project. The LEA shall insure that the equipment or supplies placed in a private school are used only for the purposes of the project; and can be removed from the private school without remodeling the private school facilities. The LEA shall remove equipment or supplies from a private school if the equipment or supplies are no longer needed for the purposes of the equitable services program; or removal is necessary to avoid use of the equipment of supplies for other than program purposes (34 CFR 76.661).
  19. May any public funds be used for religion instruction?
    No. A State or LEA may not use public funds to pay for any religious worship, instruction, proselytization, equipment or supplies to be used for any of these activities (34 CFR 76.532).
  20. May any public funds be used for the construction of private school facilities?
    No. The LEA shall insure that public funds are not used for the construction of private school facilities (34 CFR 76.662).
  21. May the LEA provide equitable services directly for eligible children, teachers, and families of the participating children in private schools?
    The LEA may provide equitable services directly by employees of the public agency; or through contract by the public agency with an individual, association, agency, organization, or other entity. The employee, person, association, agency, organization, or other entity shall be independent of the private school and of any religious organization, and the employment or contract shall be under the control and supervision of the public agency (ESSA sections 1117[d][2] and 8501[d][2]).
  22. May the LEA contract with private school personnel?
    The LEA may use public funds to pay for the services of an employee of a private school if the employee performs the services outside of his or her regular hours of duty; and the employee performs the services under public supervision and control (34 CFR 76.660).
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Questions:   Equitable Services Ombudsman | SHanna@cde.ca.gov | 916-319-0948
Last Reviewed: Monday, March 11, 2019
Recently Posted in Title I: Improving Academic Achievement
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