Parentally Placed Students with Disabilities Attending Private Schools

Information on how FCPS serves students with disabilities placed by their parents at private schools.

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is responsible for Child Find activities, which include locating, identifying, and evaluating all students with disabilities who are enrolled by their parents in private schools, including religious, elementary schools, and secondary schools located within Fairfax County. This includes children who live in Fairfax County and do not attend public school, but attend a private school in Fairfax County. This also includes children who do not live in Fairfax County and whose parents have enrolled them in private schools located in Fairfax County. Parents of students who are Fairfax County residents seeking these Child Find services should contact their FCPS base (neighborhood) school. Parents of students who do not reside in Fairfax County should contact the FCPS school closest to the private school their child attends. The public school will consider the referral information, initiate testing, if appropriate, and subsequently, determine eligibility and offer appropriate services, if required.

Referral Information

Child Find refers to the active and continuing efforts of the school division to identify, locate, and evaluate any child, birth to 21 years inclusive, who resides within the jurisdiction of Fairfax County and is suspected of being a child with a disability. These activities are required by state regulation. This includes resident children who do not attend public school, but attend private schools in Fairfax County. It also includes non-resident children who are parentally placed in private schools in Fairfax County. 

For students who reside in Fairfax County, a referral for screening should be made to the FCPS base school. For private school students who do not reside in Fairfax County a referral should be made to the FCPS school closest to the private school. Parents need to register their child at an FCPS school before initiating the screening process for special education.

A non-resident student who is eligible for special education services or who is suspected of having a disability and may require special education services should seek assistance from the FCPS school located closest to the private school.  Questions regarding which school is closest to the private school should be directed to the FCPS Office of Procedural Support at 571-423-4290.

Once an FCPS school receives a student referral, the neighborhood or base school must convene a screening committee within 10 business days to determine whether or not to evaluate for special education. If it is determined that assessments are required, the school must complete the assessments and hold an eligibility meeting during a time period not to exceed 65 business days from the date of the initial referral.

The school division must follow the prescribed guidelines for determining special education eligibility. Private evaluations presented by parents during the screening and eligibility process are considered, along with other information, in determining whether a student qualifies for special education and related services.

Consent for evaluations may be withdrawn before testing is completed, but the school system maintains the testing completed up to the point of the withdrawal. A parent may make a referral to restart the testing at any time in the future. The Local Screening Committee will review the referral and determine whether testing is warranted.

Registration, screening, and any provision of special education services takes place at the student’s neighborhood FCPS school. This school is also referred to as the base school. If the child’s base school is not known, school boundary information is available at 571-423-2330 or on our School Boundaries Adjustments page. Parents may also visit the boundary (attendance area) information page to determine a school assignment.

A private school student would be screened and receive services through the school district where the private school is located.

Referring a private school student who was previously determined to be eligible for special education services but the parents reject services offered through an IEP

For resident students, the parents would make a request for services by contacting the neighborhood or base school. The IEP/ISP team would convene to determine whether updated information is needed, and what, if any, services the student would receive. If the student returns to the public school, an IEP would be offered. If the student continues to attend the private school, an ISP may be offered. For non-resident students attending a private school located within Fairfax County, the parent would contact the FCPS school closest to the private school and request an ISP meeting. Parents interested in an IEP would contact the base (neighborhood) school in their county of residence.

The difference between an ISP (Individual Services Plan) and an IEP (Individualized Education Program)

The IEP is a written statement that specifies the individual needs of the child and what special education and related services are necessary to meet those needs. These services are provided through the public schools. The ISP indicates the service(s) the student may receive when the student attends a parentally placed private school.

Service Delivery 

Private school students (including ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students) may receive the following services through an Individual Services Plan (ISP): occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech/language, and vision. After the ISP goals are written, a determination is made regarding which service providers will address the goal(s).

A parentally placed private school student with a disability is not entitled to receive some or all of the special education and related services that the student would receive if enrolled in a public school. School divisions make the final decisions regarding the services to be provided to eligible private school students.


The reevaluation of a parentally placed private school student with an ISP should take place in the school where the student is receiving special education services. The school providing services manages the student’s ISP.

Special Services Files

Special education and special services files are maintained for 5 years following graduation or withdrawal. Special education files include records of access and/or disclosure of student records, referrals, local screening committee forms, permission to test, eligibility committee decisions, and evaluation and assessments.


FCPS provides transportation for parentally placed private school students when it is determined that the student requires transportation in order to benefit from FCPS special education services.The cost of transportation for parentally placed private school students with disabilities may be included in calculating whether FCPS has met the requirements for expenditures.

FCPS Summer Programs

Students of Fairfax County residents enrolled in private schools and students of non-Fairfax County residents may enroll in FCPS summer programs by providing proof of residency (for Fairfax County residents), birth certificate, current report card or official transcript, current record of physical examination, and proof of immunizations. 

Professional Development for Private School Teachers

Fairfax County private school teachers may participate in trainings related to the use of specific technologies on a space available basis. At this time, there is not an option for students to access training for specific technologies.

Private school personnel may access FCPS workshops and/or classes based on space available. Should the private school require specific training they should contact the special education office and/or the Parent Resource Center to see if related topics are available.

For more information regarding the provision of services for parentally-placed private school students with disabilities, please contact the FCPS Parent Resource Center or Kellie Cochran, Coordinator, Special Education Related Services.

The FCPS Parent Resource Center
2334 Gallows Road, Room 105
Dunn Loring, VA  22027
Phone:  703-204-3941
Spanish:  703-204-3955

For additional information see the Parent Information Regarding Children with Disabilities Enrolled by Their Parents in Private Schools or contact Due Process and Eligibility at 571-423-4470.

Kellie Cochran, Coordinator
Special Education Related Services
8270 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive
Fairfax, VA 22031
Phone:  571-423-4488