Special Education Services


Nonpublic Special Education Programs

Topic Overview

Nonpublic special education programs provide educational, therapeutic and/or residential services to students with disabilities. In the continuum of services for eligible students, federal and state laws allow programmatic options for students who may require exceptional educational and/or clinical intervention to meet their needs. Nonpublic programs approved under Section 14-7.02 of the School Code help serve and promote the continuation and improvement of Individualized Education Program (IEP) services for these students with disabilities.

Typically, students placed in 14-7.02 programs have such severe and perhaps complicated clinical and educational needs that school districts may opt to refer their students to outside district placements after exploring other least restrictive options. These placements can last anywhere from short periods of time (i.e. one semester), up to longer stretches (i.e. multiple years). 

Topic Placement - District versus Parent(s)

Parents who may be considering a nonpublic program for special education services should know the following:

Topic Educational Environment (Least Restrictive Environment)

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requires that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities aged 3 through 21, in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled [34 C.F.R. §300.550 (b)(1)]. Placements by which students with disabilities are removed from the regular education environment should occur only if the student's IEP team determines that the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in a regular classroom setting, even with the use of supplemental aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Topic Implementation of Services

Once a placement has been made, the nonpublic program assumes responsibility to implement the entire IEP. Although nonpublic schools will provide the necessary special education services as dictated by the IEP, the placing school district is ultimately responsible for their student(s) placed at these programs. Further, the placing school district is responsible for development, review and revision of the IEP. Nonpublic schools and their professional and certified staff will provide educational, clinical, and when appropriate, vocational programming to students. Transcript credits are agreed upon at the IEP meeting and are accepted by/awarded by the placing public school district.

Topic Approval

An initial application for approval is made by contacting the Special Education Services Division by telephone or email (see contact information at the bottom of the page). If it is determined that the program may be eligible for approval, application materials and other information will be forwarded. Please use one of the following checklists to determine if your program may be eligible for approval.

Programs must be “approved” by the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) in order for placing school districts to receive reimbursement for educational and/or residential programming. Once approved, these programs are given a three digit program code number and issued a per diem rate which will be used on a contractual basis with school districts. 

Each 14-7.02 nonpublic program is approved for specific categories and ages of special education programming dependent upon their program description, educational/clinical milieu and staff credentials. To find a list of approved programs, their subsequent rates, and to determine what those programs are approved for, please follow the applicable link below under “resources”. 

Topic Funding

The approved Nonpublic Special Education Programs are privately run, yet are publicly funded through a referral process from school districts. A district will receive no reimbursement for students who are placed in a program that is not approved by ISBE. Additionally, a district is not financially responsible if a parent unilaterally places their child in a nonpublic special education program.

Topic Shared responsibilities between Public School Districts and Nonpublic Programs

Public School District Special Education Programs Nonpublic Special Education Programs
Comply with Part 226 rules Comply with Part 401 rules
Assure the appropriateness of the placement Provide properly credentialed staff to meet IEP needs
Assure the appropriateness of the curriculum for the individual student Develop curriculum appropriate to the needs of the enrolled students
Assure that all IEP needs will be addressed Implement the IEP and collect data towards progress
Assure that Illinois State Assessments will be conducted Participate in assuring that State Assessments are conducted for all grade-eligible students
Develop the IEP on an annual basis (in conjunction with nonpublic program) Report IEP progress at the annual review
Assure that criminal background check results comply with school code requirements Conduct criminal background checks on all employees
Provide the program with a current IEP, evaluation reports (medical, psychologist, etc.)  
Conduct assessments (reevaluation, etc)  
Initiate the nonpublic facility placement contract  
  Provide a clean and safe environment
  Have expected outcomes for the program and ways to measure success
  Provide training to staff to improve success toward stated outcomes
  Notify ISBE of any changes in location, staff, program

Topic Resources

 Assessment Information

 Certification Information


 Guidance Documents

 Illinois State Course System (ISCS)

 Nonpublic Conference on Best Practices for Nonpublic Special Education Programs

 Presentations and Webinars

 Program/Facility Search


 Nonpublic Task Force/Subcommittees

 Transition Information


Questions regarding 14-7.02 Nonpublic Special Education Programs should be directed to (312) 814-5560 or email Tracy Dudek or Heather Zeman.