Alternative Special Education Settings & Approved Private Schools

Alternative Special Education Settings & Approved Private Schools


All students who receive special education services are to be provided with a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE) in accordance with regulations found in Chapter 14 of the State Board Regulations and IDEA 2004. These regulations require that all students with disabilities must receive an evaluation designed to determine the student's needs. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be developed to address the student's needs for specially designed instruction and related services. The student's program and placement options are determined as a result of the Evaluation/IEP process.


  • Home School: The home school is considered the primary placement of choice for students with disabilities. The school district provides appropriate special education programs, after CSAP, to a majority of students within their home school. All options within the home school must be considered prior to consideration of an alternative school program. Students cannot be transferred to an alternative school because of administrative convenience.
  • Neighboring School: If a student cannot be provided with an appropriate program in his/her home school, the IEP team must consider whether the student's needs can be met at a neighboring school within the School District of Philadelphia. If the Evaluation/IEP team believes that a student's needs may require placement in a neighboring school rather than a student's home school, the team must document why the home school is unable to provide services to the student.
The following should only be recommended when the IEP team determines and documents that the student's IEP cannot be implemented in the student's home school or in a neighboring school with supports and services.
  • Alternative Special Education: An Alternative Special Education Setting  IEP team determines should only be recommended when theand documents that the student's  the student's IEP cannot be implemented in home school or in a neighboring school with supports and services.
  • Approved Private Schools/ PA Chartered Schools for Deaf and Blind

Approved Private Schools

The Approved Private Schools (APSs) are private schools, licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools or PA Charter Schools for Deaf and Blind, which are exempt from licensure. Both groups are approved by the Secretary of Education to provide a free appropriate special education for students with severe disabilities. Pennsylvania currently has four PA-chartered and 30 non-charter APSs for which the Department approves funding.

Placement of students in a relatively restrictive environment such as an APS or PA Chartered School, must be based on the student's individual needs. Chapters 14, 342, and 171 of the state's special education regulations and standards govern placements. These provisions require, that placement shall be based on the following:

  1. The appropriate level of intervention,
  2. The appropriate location of intervention, and
  3. The appropriate grouping of students

When a school district and the parent agree that the only source of an appropriate program of education for an eligible student is in an APS, in accordance with the stated admission policy of the particular APS, the recommendation and supporting documentation is forwarded to the Bureau of Special Education for final approval/disapproval of payment. Costs for school age students placed in APSs are shared between the school district of residence and the Commonwealth.