{{CurrentPage.Topics.DisplayName}} {{CurrentPage.Subtopic_x0020_Level_x0020_1}}



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).


Providers seeking approval for their program to contract with Illinois public school districts to serve students with disabilities under Section 14-7.02 of the School Code will begin the initial application process by submitting a completed Intent to Apply form. The Intent to Apply form should also be utilized by an existing approved operating agency seeking approval for an additional program. Following submission, an ISBE staff member on the Nonpublic team in the Special Education Department will contact the application requestor regarding next steps in the application process. Initial application documents can only be obtained from an ISBE nonpublic special education staff member.

Programs must be approved by ISBE in order for contracting school districts to receive reimbursement for educational and/or residential programming. Once a program is approved, it will receive a private facility code number. A per diem rate, which will be used on a contractual basis with placing school districts, will be established by the Illinois Purchased Care Review Board.

Each 14-7.02 nonpublic program is approved for specific disability eligibility categories and ages of students in a special education program that are dependent upon the program description, educational/clinical milieu, and staff credentials. Schools must also identify programmatic outcomes and how success toward these goals will be measured.

The informational checklists provided below briefly summarize the requirements to become an ISBE-approved educational and/or residential provider.

A current list of ISBE-approved programs can be found by visiting the Private Facility Search. Additional information for approved programs includes per diem rates, approved disability eligibility categories, and student ages served at the program.​ 

The Intent to Apply form​ should also be utilized by an existing approved operating agency seeking approval for an additional program. Following submission of the online form, an ISBE staff member on the Nonpublic team in the Special Education Department will contact the application requestor regarding next steps in the application process.​​​​​​


Notification Requirements

According to 23 Illinois Administrative Code 401.20, you are required to notify ISBE and placing districts for the following instances:

  • Vacancy of position that affects compliance – Notify ISBE within five business days.
  • Ongoing vacancy of a position that affects compliance – Notify ISBE and placing district after 20 business days of initial notice, again after 40 business days of initial notice, and again after any subsequent 40 business day period until the vacancy has been filled. Notification must include attempts to permanently fill the position, including the use of substitutes and other steps undertaken in order to provide necessary instruction and related services to the students enrolled.
  • Program closure – Notify ISBE and placing districts 40 business days prior to intended closure.
  • Program moving to a new location – New location must be approved by ISBE prior to program relocation.  Notify ISBE and placing districts 40 business days prior to the anticipated move date.

Staffing Requirements

23 Illinois Administrative Code 401.240 – Nonpublic special education programs are required to maintain sufficient staff to meet the needs of the students enrolled in the program. Please note the following:

  • Staff members must hold the credentials required for the position prior to employment within the program. It is unacceptable for a staff member who is unlicensed to work in a position that requires a license.
    • Pending Review for an ISBE license does not qualify staff to hold that position. 
    • Pending Review indicates that a license has been applied for, but is not an indication that he/she meets the requirements for that license or that a license will be issued in the future.
  • Licensed Special Education Teachers with endorsement for the specific grade level being taught are required for each classroom. 
  • Substitute teachers can be used to replace absent teachers and cannot be used to open a new classroom, begin a school year, or meet staffing requirements. 
  • A program that has operated for more than 60 consecutive calendar days in noncompliance with staffing requirements can cause a change in the provider's approval status accordingly, pursuant to the provisions of Section 401.30.

 Age Range / Class Size


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.

 Placement Information


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.​​


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.


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.


 Important Links

* * * This page has been archived. The content on this page may no longer be in effect. * * *

Contact Information