Religious and Independent Schools

Federal Programs

Nonpublic schools may participate in certain federally funded programs. Those listed below are currently authorized but changes may occur during the 1989-90 school year and thereafter. Two characteristics of nonpublic school participation in these programs are important:

  • Planning: Nonpublic school personnel should participate in the planning phase of these programs.
  • Equitable participation: Students in nonpublic schools should receive services on an equal basis to those given public school pupils.

Chapter 1

The purpose of Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act of 1981 (ECIA) is to provide financial assistance to State and local educational agencies to meet the special educational needs of educationally deprived children.

The focus of Chapter 1 funds in the State continues to be reading, writing and math programs, as well as programs with a bilingual approach. Important provisions concerning Chapter 1 programs follow:

  • Chapter 1 provides that educationally deprived children in private elementary and secondary schools are entitled to receive educational services which are equivalent to services provided such children in the district's public schools.
  • Chapter 1 services may not generally be provided on the premises of a religiously-affiliated nonpublic school. The exception is when the services are provided through an arrangement in which nondivertible computers can be installed.
  • Even if the needs of the students in the nonpublic schools are different than the needs of students in the public schools, the local education agency (LEA) must provide services to these students.
  • Administrators of nonpublic schools must participate in the planning and implementation of Chapter 1 programs.
  • If a nonpublic school has eligible students coming from different districts, it is the responsibility of the nonpublic school administrator to contact the various superintendents to discuss students' eligibility and see if a program is available in the district.
  • If the nonpublic school declines in writing to participate in the program, the LEA is not obligated to give the service. The appropriated funds may then be used for Chapter 1 programs in other public and nonpublic schools. It is the obligation of the nonpublic school administrator to inform parents of eligible children of the decision not to participate.
  • The LEA has the responsibility to provide remedial services for eligible children who reside in the district, even if they attend a nonpublic school outside the district.
  • The district conducts an annual educational needs assessment to identify educationally deprived children coming from an attendance area where there is a high concentration of low-income families. The district determines from this assessment the grade levels to be served and the general instructional objectives for the program. Low income is determined in several ways:
    • families on aid to dependent children
    • national school lunch programs
    • district poverty survey
    • census data
  • Standardized tests given yearly can be used to screen students for educational deficiencies. Since requests are made in the spring for the following fall, the results of the spring testing are more reliable in determining the level of students to be served in the fall.

Questions regarding Chapter 1 programs should be addressed to the Chapter 1 District Coordinator in the local public school district. Additional assistance may be obtained by calling the Chapter 1 representative listed in Section VI.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2 programs are designed to foster improvement in school curriculum, instructional programs, and in staff growth and effectiveness. Under the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act (ECIA) Chapter 2, thirty federal categorical programs have been combined into a single State grant, reducing administrative requirements. The major categories of the consolidation are:

  • Basic Skills Development
  • Educational Improvement and Support Services
  • Special Projects
  • Discretionary Grants

The allocation of funds is based on the number of pupils attending school in the district. Areas economically depressed or with a high percentage of low-income families receive a greater allocation. Information on the annual BEDS form is used to determine each school's allocation. No funds are given directly to nonpublic schools but each school decides on the services and/or materials it wishes to obtain through the public school district in the amount of its allocation. Each administrator must keep accurate records, as annual and final reports are required.

The public school district should inform the nonpublic school regarding the need to submit grant applications. Usually a letter is sent from the local school district in October outlining the dollar amount allocated. Additional information on Chapter 2 programs may be obtained from the Coordinator in your local school district. Questions may also be addressed to the State representative for Chapter 2 listed in Section VI.


Title II of the Education for Economic Security Act (PL98-377) provides funds, on a formula basis, to local school districts for the training and retraining of teachers of mathematics, science, foreign languages, and computer learning, including provision of services to teachers and students in eligible nonpublic schools. While nonpublic school teachers and students are to receive equitable services under this Act, the dollar amount available for services to any one nonpublic school is so small that implementation is difficult unless nonpublic and public school administrators make cooperative efforts to develop districtwide or regional programs.

This program is administered by the same office which handles Chapter 2. Questions may be addressed to the office listed in section VI.

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Last Updated: February 3, 2012