Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

The Orthodox Union has prepared this primer to help private school officials understand the federally funded services available for their teachers and students. Please contact Michelle Twersky if you have any questions about ESEA services or this primer.

Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is the primary source of federal education funding. In FY 2011 it provided over $20 billion in grants to states and local school districts.

Many parts of the ESEA, particularly those designed to help disadvantaged students, set aside funds for nonpublic as well as public school students.

Local Educational Agencies (i.e. school districts) receiving federal money are required to provide services—but not funding—to nonpublic schools and students who request them. In all cases, private schools don’t actually receive any government funds. Rather, the school district receives these funds and uses them to provide services to private schools and students – either through school district staff or third-party providers.

The parts of ESEA of most use to Jewish schools are:

Title I, Part A.

This program provides supplemental support (e.g. tutoring, family services, early childhood support) for disadvantaged students.  Only private schools with students who live in low-income or high-minority school districts receive these services.

Title II, Part A.

This program provides professional development for private school teachers and principals. All private schools are eligible for these services.

School districts must set aside a proportional amount of their Title II professional development funds to provide services for private school students. For example, a school district that spends $50,000 in Title II funding on professional development and has an equal number of public and private school students must spend at least $25,000 on professional development for private schools.

Title III, Part A.

This program funds English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement and Academic Achievement services for foreign-born students whose native language is not English. Private school students are entitled to Title III services on an equitable basis with public school students.

How to Get Started: Meaningful Consultation

The first step in securing Title services for your students is meeting with your public school district’s nonpublic school liaison.

  • Consultation involves discussions between public and private school officials on key issues that affect the ability of eligible private school students to participate equitably in Title programs.
  • You want to establish positive and productive working relationships with your school district. This will make planning easier and ensure that the Title I services provided meet the needs of eligible students.
  • A unilateral offer of services by an LEA with no opportunity for discussion is not adequate consultation. Please contact Maury Litwack, Director of State Political Affairs for the Orthodox Union, if you feel that your school district is failing to consult with you.
  •  The LEA should only make its final decision with respect to when, where, and how Title services will be provided after discussing key issues with your school.

How does the consultation process begin?

  • Every year, LEA’s must contact private school officials offering them an opportunity to consult. Many LEA’s invite all private schools to a meeting where the LEA officials explain the intent of Title Services and the roles of public and private school officials. At these meetings the LEA allows private school officials to ask any questions about Title Services.
  • Private school officials can facilitate consultation by informing the LEA of which private school officials should be included in the consultation process and their roles and authority.
  • LEAs may not merely send a letter to private schools explaining the intent of Title Services. This is not considered meaningful consultation.

When does consultation begin?

  • Consultation must begin before the LEA makes any decision that affects the opportunity for eligible private school children, their teachers, and their families to participate in Title programs.
  • An LEA must continue meeting with appropriate private school officials throughout the implementation and assessment of Title services.
  • This consultation must include early discussions to prepare for the next school year so that there is a timely start of the Title programs at the beginning of each school year, and throughout its implementation and assessment of services.

What if I have not heard from my LEA?

  • Contact the school district and request a meeting to discuss Title Services in your school

What should be discussed in my meeting with the LEA?

  • How the needs of children and teachers will be identified;
  • What services will be offered;
  • How, where, and by whom the services will be provided;
  • How the services will be assessed and how the results of the assessment will be used to improve those services;
  • The size and scope of the equitable services;
  • The amount of funds available for those services; and
  • How and when the LEA will make decisions about the delivery of services.

Consultation on the delivery of services must also include a thorough consideration and analysis of the views of the private school officials on the provision of contract services through potential third-party providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

May several private schools pool their Title funds for greater efficiency?

  • Private schools in the same LEA can pool their federal funds.
  • Funds may not be pooled across LEAs.
  • For Title II, Part A, to accommodate the same professional development for teachers in different LEAs, a per-teacher cost could be used by an LEA or third party provider.

Do private school officials have the right to complain?

  • Private school officials have the right to complain to the SEA if they believe that an LEA did not engage in timely and meaningful consultation or did not consider their views

A formal written complaint must include:

  • A statement that the SEA, LEA, or other entity receiving federal financial assistance has violated a requirement of a federal statute or regulation that applies to a program requiring equitable participation;
  • The facts on which the statement is based and the specific statutory or regulatory requirement allegedly violated; and
  • The signature of the complainant.

Please contact the Orthodox Union’s Institute for Public Affairs if you feel you are being denied any federally funded services.