Special Education Links
Special Education Services

Nonpublic Special Education Programs

 What's New (12/23/15)

  • In October 2015 changes were made to 23 Illinois Administrative Code 401. (Note: Always refer to the rules document to be sure you are looking at the most current version.)

    In brief, those changes were:
  • Section 401.10 - State Fire Marshal Inspections completed for nonpublic facilities are now valid for 36 months instead of the previous 24 month time period.  Fire inspections of nonpublic facilities from a local governmental entity completed within the past 12 months are now accepted in place of the State Fire Marshal Inspection.
  • Section 401.145 – This section has been changed to reflect the new School Code regulation on State Assessments and removes the names of previous assessments that are no longer used. 
  • Section 401.240 & Section 401.145 - The wording has been changed to reflect Professional Educator Licenses as ISBE no longer uses the certification system.


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). 

 Placement - District versus Parent(s)

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

  • Unilateral parent placement – If a parent unilaterally places their child in a nonpublic special education program, educational services will be provided to the child at parental expense. The school district will not be required to accept financial responsibility for the service costs associated with such placement.
  • District placement - ISBE Approved Nonpublic Special Education Programs are used when the IEP team from the public school has determined that the services the student needs can only be provided in a nonpublic setting. The public school district then pays the tuition for all special education and related services provided by the nonpublic school program. All the information on this page is related to these types of schools.
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 general 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 general classroom setting, even with the use of supplemental aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

 Implementation of Services

Once a placement has been made, the nonpublic program assumes responsibility to implement the entire IEP and collect/analyze data on progress. 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 and ensuring that the student receives services appropriately.

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. The nonpublic school is responsible for developing a curriculum appropriate to the needs of the enrolled students that teaches the branches of education taught to children of corresponding age and grade in the public schools. Transcript credits are agreed upon at the IEP meeting and are accepted by/awarded by the placing public school district.

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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. Schools must also identify programmatic outcomes and how success toward these goals will be measured.

To find a list of approved programs, their subsequent rates, and to determine what those programs are approved for, please visit the Harrisburg Project private facility search.

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Funding (12/23/15)

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.

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Questions regarding 14-7.02 Nonpublic Special Education Programs should be directed to (312) 814-5560 or email Viver Ballard or April George.