If you’ve been following along for this series of blog posts, you know that I’ve been writing about various elements of the new Title VIII guidance released by the U.S. Department of Education on July 17, 2023. This guidance explains Equitable Services for Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Other Educational Personnel. You can find the guidance at https://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/non-public-education/files/esea-titleviii-guidance-2023.pdf.
Previous blogs focused on an overall explanation of the contents of the guidance, Title IIA professional development, and fiscal issues within the guidance. Today, I want to focus on consultation. See Section A in the guidance.
Much of the content within the consultation section focuses on the practical application of the law and ensuring that consultation is itself a fair and equitable process—that leads to fair and equitable services.
In particular, I recommend that you read through questions A-5 (Intent to Participate), A-6 (deadlines for private school officials to submit information), A-9 (frequency of consultation), (A-10) designation of private school officials, A-11 (additional consultation topics at the end of the answer), A-12 (goal of reaching agreement), A-15 (timing for signing the written affirmation), and A-21 (SEA activities to foster good consultation).
Question A-14 delineates what the LEA should document to show meaningful consultation has occurred. To me, this means that the LEA should be doing these things in order for consultation to be meaningful. These LEA activities include:
- Annually inform private school officials of the opportunity to participate in covered programs (Titles IC, IIA, IIIA, IVA, IVB, IVF subpart 3) and potential services available.
- Engage in timely consultation and allow for meaningful discussion.
- Identify the needs of eligible private school students and educators.
- Allocate a per pupil amount of funds that is correctly calculated according to the law.
- Provide services, programs, materials, and resources.
- Evaluate programs and services for effectiveness.
- Adequately address problems and formal complaints raised by private school officials.
- Reach agreement with private school officials on how to provide equitable and effective programs for eligible students and teachers.
How can private school officials help? While there are no delineated responsibilities for private school officials in the law, it takes two to tango! Question A-17 lists some contributions that private school officials can make to actively participate in consultation:
- Provide input in the development of a timeline for consultation.
- Provide data and information about the needs of their eligible students and educators.
- Offer suggestions regarding program design, implementation, and evaluation.
- Inquire about participation in any discretionary programs (such as Title IVB and Title IVF subpart 3).
- Address the use of a third-party provider.
- Complete any appropriate forms needed by the LEA to ensure the delivery of equitable services. (The guidance reinforces the requirement that such paperwork should not require undue administrative effort for the private school officials or require them to submit operational budget information).
There are lots of good reminders on consultation topics you’ve heard about many times before, but also some new explanations that will help to ensure timely and meaningful consultation. But keep in mind that federal education programs do not self-implement—they take effort by everyone to ensure that students get the very best that the programs can offer.
All the best,
Michelle L. Doyle
Michelle Doyle Educational Consulting