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​Approved Private Schools and Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

The Approved Private Schools (APSs) and the Chartered Schools for the Deaf and Blind are schools approved by the Secretary of Education to provide a free and appropriate special education for students with severe disabilities. Approved Private Schools are private schools, licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools. The Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind are exempt from licensure. The schools are eligible to receive funds from the school districts and/or the Commonwealth for the education of these students. Pennsylvania currently has four PA chartered and 33 non-charter APSs for which the Department approves funding. These schools provide a program of special education for over 4,000 day and residential students. A Directory of Approved Private and PA Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind is available by mail from the Bureau of Special Education or at this web site in PDF version.

Placement of students in a relatively restrictive environment such as an APS or PA Chartered School, must be based on the student's individual needs. Chapters 14,and 171 of the state's special education regulations and standards govern placements. These provisions require, among other things, that placement shall be based on the following:

  • The appropriate level of intervention,
  • The appropriate location of intervention, and
  • The appropriate grouping of students

Generally, the permissible justification for removing a child from the student's regular educational environment is only when the nature or intensity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

When a school district and the parent agree that the only source of an appropriate program of education for an eligible student is in an APS, in accordance with the stated admission policy of the particular APS, the recommendation and supporting documentation is forwarded to the Bureau of Special Education for final approval/disapproval of payment.

Costs for school age students placed in APSs are shared between the school district of residence and the Commonwealth.  

The school district of residence or charter school will input 4010’s or 4011’s into Approved Private School Electronic Management (APSEM), which is housed in the PDE Suite.

The school district or charter school will also input Preschool Early Intervention students into the system with information provided by the MAWA or the Preschool Early intervention program.  Please have the school district/charter school staff contact their local Preschool Early Intervention program to identify who the contact person from the established Preschool Early Intervention program will be handling any procedural concerns related to students in the EI program who are enrolled in an APS and participating in the APS 4010 funding process. 

For technical assistance with APSEM, please contact Eileen Jacobs at​ or 717.257.6652.

APSs are an important and necessary part of Pennsylvania's special education delivery system. These schools provide some students with what may be the only appropriate education program currently available.

PA Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

The legislature which enacted Section 1376.1 of the School Code, recognized the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Overbrook School for the Blind, Western Pennsylvania School for the Blind, and the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf as a distinct and separate group of schools.

Approved Private Schools and Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind – 2024 (PDF)