Parents’ Rights

School oversight is managed by a considerable group of federal and state laws, regulations, and ordinances. California non-public, non-sectarian schools that are certified to contract with public school districts to educate students with special needs are regulated by many more laws, statutes, and requirements. The Haynes Education Center is certified by the California Department of Education as a nonpublic, non-sectarian school and fully complies with an expansive scope of laws, regulations, and ordinances.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a law ensuring services to children with disabilities throughout the nation.

IDEA requires school districts to provide a “free appropriate public education” to eligible children with disabilities. A free appropriate public education means that special education and related services are to be provided as described in an individualized education program (IEP) and under public supervision to your child at no cost to you. Working in partnership with multiple Southern California area school districts, the Haynes Education Center is a free appropriate public education option for children with disabilities.

As a parent, you have a right to participate in any decision-making meeting regarding your child special education program. You have the right to participate in IEP team meetings about the identification (eligibility), assessment, or educational placement of your child and other matters regarding your child’s education.

The Haynes Education Center’s experienced and knowledgeable staff is always available to discuss student and parent rights and procedural safeguards.


Click here to download the parents rights pdf.

Parents’ Resources Links

Learn more about student and parent rights.

The following websites are provided as resources for learning more about the laws and regulations governing schools, which constitute student and parent rights:

Special education student and parent rights – California: 

Special education student and parent rights – Federal

Related information

Q&A for Non Public Schools

Q: What is a nonpublic school?

A: Nonpublic schools are publicly funded, privately operated non-sectarian schools that provide special education services to students whose needs are so exceptional that they cannot be met in a public school setting. [EC 56034] Of the 678,000 students in California receiving special education services, approximately 15,000 (2%) are educated each year in nonpublic schools located both in California and in other states, according to the California Department of Education. There are 369 nonpublic schools certified in California.

Q: How do students qualify for education in a nonpublic school?

A: Every child in the United States is entitled, under both state and federal laws, to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive setting that meets the child’s needs. Students qualified for placement and nonpublic schools have exceptional learning, emotional, or physical handicapping condition that negatively impact their educational process. Nonpublic schools provide the most restrictive educational setting available. State and federal law stipulates that a student may not be placed in a nonpublic school unless the severity of their disability is such the education in a regular class with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. [EC 56040.1]

Q: How is the decision made that a student needs to be educated in a nonpublic school?

A: Every student placed in a nonpublic school must qualify for special education services as detailed in his or her Individualized Education Plan (IEP.) The IEP also must determine that the public school system cannot provide the student with the instruction and services necessary to meet his or her educational needs, and must identify a nonpublic school with the necessary resources and capabilities. IEPs are constructed by IEP teams that include at minimum, the student’s parent or whoever holds the student’s educational rights, the student’s teacher, and a representative of the local educational agency’s administration. Often included as part of the IEP teams are the student, the individual who conducted the student’s educational assessment, an expert in the child’s specific disability, such as a school psychologist or speech and language pathologist, and anyone else the core team members believe may have special expertise or knowledge about the student.

Q: What are students taught in nonpublic schools?

A: Nonpublic schools in California are required to use the standard State curriculum for each grade level, but with instruction and materials individualized to the needs, strength, and capacity of each student, as detailed in his or her IEP. AB 1858 (Steinberg statutes of 2005) mandates that nonpublic schools:

  • Utilize the same instructional materials used by the school district in which the nonpublic school is located. [EC Section 56366. 10(b)]
  • Provide college preparation courses. [EC Section 56366 10 (b)(2)]
  • Offer extracurricular activities such as art, sports, music, and academic clubs. [EC Section 563661.10(b)(3)]
  • Offer career preparation and vocational training. [EC Section 56366.10(b)(4)]
  • Provide supplemental assistance, including academic tutoring, psychological counseling, and career and college counseling. [EC Section 56366.10(b)(5)]
  • Assure teachers and staff provides academic instruction and support services, with the goal of integrating students into the least restrictive environment. [EC Section 56366.10(c)]

Q: How are nonpublic schools able to educate students with exceptional needs?

A: Each nonpublic school specializes in the education of students with a specific handicapping condition: including learning disabled, seriously emotionally disturbed, developmentally disabled, autistic, speech and language impaired, or other health impaired. Nonpublic schools utilize very small class sizes (8 to 14 students) and high staff to student ratio’s (often, one staff member for between two and seven students, depending on need) in order to provide individualized instruction and support. Credentialed and other personnel are specifically trained to meet the needs of students with handicapping conditions in which the nonpublic school specializes. Nonpublic schools that specialize in serving students with significant behavioral problems deriving from emotional disturbance may also provide staff trained in positive behavioral techniques, concurrent individualized mental health support and services, behavioral therapy, physical therapy, and speech and occupational therapy, and social skills training. A survey of nearly 50 nonpublic schools evidenced average academic gains of 1.54 grade levels in English/Reading proficiency and 1.69 grade levels in math proficiency after one year of education in accredited California Alliance member non-public schools.

Q: What assures taxpayers that nonpublic schools provide high-quality educational services?

A: Nonpublic schools are certified and regulated by the California Department of Education. School requesting to be certified as “non-public” must undergo a rigorous certification process, then submits to an on-site review a minimum of once every four years. The state may also conducted unannounced reviews anytime the Department thinks it is warranted. Nonpublic schools are also bound to the same testing and reporting requirements as their public school counterparts. Test scores can be found on the Department of Education’s website. In addition to the certification and oversight by the California Department of Education, individual school districts, Special Education Local Planning Areas (SELPA,) and County Offices of Education (COE) are empowered to include quality and outcomes accountability requirements in their contracts with nonpublic schools. Parents, children’s educational representatives, and local educational agency personnel may visit nonpublic school sites at any time. That said, not all public schools are created equal. The best are accredited by recognized professional accrediting bodies, providing a level of independent review above and beyond that which is required by the State and contracting educational agencies. Accrediting bodies maybe statewide, regional, or national and include: for example, the California Alliance Child and Family Services, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, and the National Association of Private Special Education Schools.

Q: How are nonpublic school services paid for?

A: Each public educational agency that place is a student in a nonpublic school reimburses the school based upon the daily rate negotiated by the nonpublic school with its host district, SELPA, or COE. Rates vary with the package of services the school agrees to provide, the individual needs of the students served, and even the region of the state in which the nonpublic school is located. Every nonpublic school operates under a master contract with its host district, SELPA, or COE. The contract must contain details regarding the administrative and financial agreements between the private and public agency, the individual service agreement for each pupil, the district’s process to oversee and evaluate placements and nonpublic schools, and the method for evaluating whether pupils are making appropriate educational progress. Local educational agencies receive federal and state funds comprising a capped allocation from the state for provision of special education services to pupils who have special needs. If it is determined through the IEP process that a student’s needs require placement in a nonpublic school, the school district pays for that special education service out of its capped allocation.