Pooling Title I funds to provide equitable services

Public and private school officials must work together on providing equitable and effective programs for private school students
By: | May 8, 2020
gettyimages.com: Solstockgettyimages.com: Solstock

The Every Student Succeeds Act, Pub. L. No. 114-95, requires that local educational agencies consult with appropriate private school officials with the goal of reaching agreement on how to provide equitable and effective programs for eligible private school children. This includes whether the LEA will provide services directly or through a separate government agency, consortium, entity, or third-party contractor. Section 1117(b)(1).

LEAs may consider pooling options when using Title I funds to provide equitable services to eligible private school children in accord with the U.S. Education Department’s Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act: Providing Equitable Services to Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Families. 119 LRP 38894 (EDU 10/07/19).

ED officials have noted that the law authorizes LEAs to provide equitable services to eligible children in each private school with Title I funds generated by the children from low-income families who reside in participating Title I public school attendance area and attend that private school, or alternatively to create a pool or pools of Title I funds generated by children from low-income families who live in participating Title I public school attendance areas and attend a private school in a group of schools and provide equitable services to eligible children in any school in the group. Section 1117(b)(1)(J).

That is, the LEA may choose one or more of the following options:

1. Providing school-by-school equitable services to eligible private school children using Title I funds.

2. Providing equitable services to eligible private school children by pooling Title I funds within the LEA, such as in a group of schools under the authority of a single organization.

3. Providing equitable services by pooling Title I funds across multiple LEAs to serve low-achieving private school children in greatest need and who are eligible for equitable services as determined by the LEA in consultation with appropriate private school officials. Providing Equitable Services to Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Families, B-8 and B-9.

ED’s nonregulatory guidance notes that the LEA may not unilaterally decide to pool funds among several private schools to provide equitable services.

Furthermore, the LEA and appropriate private school officials must agree through consultation for the LEA to pool Title I funds among a group of private schools. Without such agreement, the LEA must follow the general rule in Section 1117(b)(1)(J)(ii) and provide equitable services to eligible low-achieving students in each school commensurate with the funds generated by children from low-income families in that school. Providing Equitable Services to Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Families, B-9.

LEAs must consult with appropriate private school officials regarding the size and scope of equitable services to be provided to eligible private school children in a single school or pool of schools, the proportion of funds that is allocated for equitable services, and how that proportion of funds is determined. Section 1117(b)(1)(E). Providing Equitable Services to Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Families, B-16.

Unless there are no other participating private schools in the LEA, the LEA would not allocate any excess funds for equitable services to public school children because the law, according to the guidance, requires that all funds generated for equitable services remain part of the overall private school proportional share. Section 1117(a)(4)(A). Providing Equitable Services to Eligible Private School Children, Teachers, and Families, B-16.

Johnny Jackson covers homeless and at-risk students and other Title I issues for ESEA Now, a DA sister publication. Documents mentioned above are available to subscribers.