Equitable Title I services must be available for low-achieving nonpublic students whose residence of record (parents’/guardians’ place of residence) is in a public school attendance area that receives Title I funds. This includes nonpublic students in Title I eligible, but not participating (skipped) attendance areas. Students who receive services must meet Title I criteria, i.e., multiple objective, educationally related criteria to determine which nonpublic students from the school attendance areas are considered low performing.
Low-income children who attend nonpublic schools are included in the census poverty counts that the United States Department of Education uses to determine the public school district’s Title I allocation, therefore these children are entitled to Title I services. Title I services are offered under the Child Benefit Theory, which was developed to comply with the Constitutional prohibition against federal funding to private schools. Therefore, Title I funds must benefit the individual child, not the nonpublic school, and be provided by the local educational agency (LEA).
Serving Nonpublic Students
To ensure that eligible nonpublic students receive Title I services, school districts must apply a three-phase process:
Phase I: Locating and Counting Nonpublic Students for Allocation of Title I Funds
Nonpublic Student Counts for Eligibility Calculation
Title I districts have the responsibility to locate and count all students who attend nonpublic schools, located within and outside of the district. Nonpublic students must be counted for enrollment as well as for low-income status. Once located, the residence of the students must be matched to the public school attendance areas. These counts are the basis of the Title I Eligibility process outlined below:
Nonpublic schools may choose to refuse Title I funds. Nonetheless, the district students attending these nonpublic schools would still be counted for enrollment (Step 1), ranking (Steps 2 & 3), and allocation of Title I funds to school attendance areas (Step 4), although they would not receive Title I services.
How Does the District Locate Nonpublic Students?
The following steps should be followed to locate students in nonpublic schools:
Once all children attending nonpublic schools are located, the nonpublic schools must be contacted to identify which of the district’s children attending the nonpublic schools qualify as low income. If any qualify as low income, the nonpublic school students may generate Title I funds if the district’s school attendance area where a student resides receives a Title I allocation. The NJDOE recommends that districts use the templates provided on the NJDOE Web site at www.nj.gov/education/grants/entitlement/nclb/ and in the NCLB Reference Manual, located on the same site, to collect low-income data. The district should send its notifications to nonpublic schools via certified mail and retain the records.
The total nonpublic counts for enrollment and low income must be entered into Step I of the Eligibility calculation as described above under “Nonpublic Student Counts for Eligibility Calculation.”
Note: If complete low-income data are unavailable, a district may calculate “comparable poverty data.” Using the public school low-income percentage and the nonpublic student counts, the district can extrapolate the number of nonpublic students who are low income.
If the district follows all steps in locating and counting nonpublic students as described above, both public and nonpublic counts may be used for eligibility ranking in Step 2 of the Eligibility process. Otherwise, only public counts may be used.
Some nonpublic schools may refuse the Title I services. Others may receive an allocation, but have few, if any, students who are low performing. Unused nonpublic Title I funds may be reallocated to the public school attendance areas if the low-performing nonpublic students were given every opportunity for services. Consultation with nonpublic school officials must occur. Reallocating funds must be done through an amendment to the district’s NCLB Consolidated Application.
Phase II: Consultations
The district conducts ongoing consultation with the nonpublic schools to determine which students qualify for Title I services and what the nature of the services. All nonpublic schools must be invited to the consultation meetings. This includes nonprofit institutions for the handicapped where a parent placed the child and pays tuition. Note: If the school district pays tuition, services are already included in the tuition. Therefore, consultation is not required.
Districts should retain proof of consultation, such as sign-in sheets and meeting agendas. Each nonpublic school in attendance must complete the Affirmation of Consultation form, which the district must keep on file. More detailed information on consulting with nonpublic schools and serving nonpublic students is provided in the NCLB Reference Manual.
Note: Only students in nonprofit institutions may benefit from Title I services. As referenced under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), elementary and secondary schools “means a nonprofit institutional day or residential school, including a charter school, that provides elementary or secondary education, as determined under state law.” [Title IX, Part A, Sec. 9101, (18) & (38)] A district may require certification from the nonpublic school that includes a tax exempt number or letter of tax exempt status from the U.S. Treasury Department.
Phase III: Providing Title I Services
The district retains control of Title I funds, materials, supplies, and equipment purchased with these funds. The district may provide Title I services to eligible nonpublic students directly or through a third-party. Services must be comparable to those provided to the public school students. The eligible nonpublic schools and students must also be offered equitable participation in certain Title I programs for which funds are reserved. These include LEA professional development, parent involvement, and districtwide instructional programs. For more information about this phase of the process, refer to the NCLB Reference Manual and the federal non-regulatory guidance Title I Services to Eligible Private School Children www.nj.gov/education/title1/leg/.