IDEA and Private Specialized Programs

 NAPSEC programs are a piece of the comprehensive IDEA puzzle Ė the piece that brings it all together for many individuals with disabilities by providing the place where they uniquely fit and succeed.


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The Continuum of Alternative Placements and Services

What is a NAPSEC Program?

Private Special Education & The Least Restrictive Environment



Continuum of Alternative Placements and Services


IDEA requires that each public agency ensures that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. The continuum required must include the alternative placements that are listed in the definition of special education under Section 300.26  of IDEA - instruction in regular classes, special classed, special schools, home instruction and instruction in hospitals and institutions and make provision for supplementary services, such as resource room or itinerant instruction, to be provided in conjunction with regular class placement.

The IDEA regulations state: "Although Part B requires that a child with a disability not be removed from the regular educational environment if the child's education can be achieved satisfactorily in regular classed with the use of supplementary aids and service, Part B's Least Restrict Environment (LRE) principle is intended to ensure that a child with a disability be served in a setting where the child can be educated successfully."

NAPSEC member programs represent the continuum by providing services for all ages and disabilities in private early intervention programs, schools, residential therapeutic centers and adult living programs.



What is a NAPSEC Program?



The National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC) is a non-profit association whose mission is to represent private special education centers and their leaders. Together, we promote high quality programs for individuals with disabilities and their families and we advocate for access to the continuum of alternative placements and services.

NAPSEC represents over 300 programs nationally, and over 500 at the state level, that provide special education for both privately and publicly placed individuals. The majority of the membership serves publicly placed individuals who are funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Ten percent of the membership provide services to privately placed individuals only and receive no federal funding. 

NAPSEC programs provide special education services for preschool, elementary, and secondary aged children and adults with mild to severe disabilities in over 60 different disability categories, who need individualized education programs that address their unique needs. 


NAPSEC programs are located throughout the nation, serve all types of disabilities, are not-for-profit, as well as for-profit entities, are separate schools or affiliated with a children's home,  hospital, college, or university setting. NAPSEC programs provide day, residential, clinic, and summer programs. Although the majority of NAPSEC programs serve individuals ages 6 through 21, many provide services from birth to geriatric populations. These members offer programs serving birth through five year olds and/or adult living programs.


NAPSEC programs provide specialized educational services that include: psychology; psychiatry; physical, occupational, and speech therapy; diagnostic testing; adaptive physical education and recreation; nursing services, and social work. These services are based on individual needs that are designed to meet his/her unique social, emotional, and learning needs.


The majority of NAPSEC members have coed programs lasting 10 months. The staff to client ratio in a NAPSEC program ranges from one staff per client, to one staff per twelve clients. These ratios represent both ends of the spectrum, with the one-to-one ratio representing the staffing for an individual with severe disabilities and the one-to-twelve representing the ratio for individuals who have mild disabilities or who participate in gifted and talented programs.


Although NAPSEC programs are very diverse in the disabilities they serve and the services they provide, they all operate on this fundamental belief: to guarantee that each clientís unique needs are met on an individual basis in order to achieve his/her maximum potential. Each NAPSEC programís goal is to provide a safe learning environment in which individuals receive the skills necessary to return to the regular classroom and/or function successfully in society.



Private Special Education & The Least Restrictive Environment



In 2004, the United States Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA is the Federal law that mandates that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) be provided for individuals with disabilities, ages 6-21.


 IDEA requires that educational services to individuals with disabilities be provided in the least  restrictive environment (LRE), meaning the most appropriate environment based on the individualís unique learning needs. The law requires that individuals with disabilities must be educated to the maximum extent appropriate with individuals who are nondisabled. The  removal of an individual from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. 


Services provided under Part C of IDEA, the Infants and Toddlers with Disabilities program,  serving ages birth to 3, must be provided in natural environments. This includes the home and community settings in which children without disabilities participate.  The 2004 law amended this provision to recognize that there may be instances when a childís individualized family service plan cannot be implemented satisfactorily in the natural environment. In these instances, the childís parents and the other members of the individualized family service plan team will together make this determination and then identify the most appropriate setting in which early intervention services can be provided.  The Preschool Grants section of the law, providing services for preschool children ages 3-5, places emphasis for LRE on how the disability affects the childís participation in appropriate activities. 


The law requires each public agency to ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities for special education and related services. The continuum provides a range of services to meet the unique learning needs of each individual. It includes instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.

In determining the individualís educational placement, each public agency shall ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including the parents, and other persons knowledgeable about the individual, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options in conformity with the lawís LRE provisions.  The individualís placement is determined at least annually, is based on the individual education plan (IEP), and is as close as possible to the individualís home.


Unless the individualís IEP requires some other arrangement, the individual is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled. In selecting the LRE, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the individual or the quality of services that he or she needs. An individual with a disability is not removed from education in an age-appropriate regular classroom solely because of needed modifications in the general curriculum.


The principle of LRE is intended to ensure that an individual with a disability is served in a setting where he or she can be educated successfully. Even though IDEA does not mandate regular class placement for every disabled individual by the placement team, IDEA does presume that the first placement option considered is the school the individual would attend if he or she were not disabled. The full range of supplemental aids and services that if provided would facilitate the individuals placement in the regular education setting must be considered before an individual can be placed outside the regular classroom. However, individuals need not fail in the regular classroom before another placement can be considered.

In all cases, placement decisions must be individually determined on the basis of each individualís abilities and needs, and not solely on factors such as category of disability,  significance of disability, availability of special  education and  related services, configuration of the service delivery system, availability of space, or administrative convenience. It is each individualís IEP that forms the basis for the placement decision. Most importantly, parents have the right to be members of the group that decides the  educational placement of the child.


The ContinuumÖ Educational Options for Success!