APS Schools

So many times, parents ask me for a list of IEP, APS and private school placement options in Chester County. I always say, “Sorry, no list, it’s up to the parents to do their research.” But guess what?!? Happy Friday, because…There is a list! But the only reason that there is a list is because my advocate friends and I created one! So thank you to all of you who helped.

We have included some bordering counties like Delaware county, Montgomery County, Lancaster county and even New Castle County in Delaware.


First, I want to go over IEP placement options and the differences between options and continuum of services.

In PA, we have something called an APS. APS stands for Approved Private School. From the PDE website:

The Approved Private Schools (APSs) are private schools, licensed by the State Board of Private Academic Schools. The Chartered Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, which are exempt from licensure. Both groups are approved by the Secretary of Education to provide a free appropriate special education for students with severe disabilities. 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.

In other words, if the team decides that your child would benefit from a more restrictive environment, then the APS becomes their IEP placement. I have the official PA list of APSs at the bottom of this post.

APSs have to provide FAPE and therefore IEPs and the IEP process.

However, there are many other private schools that cater to the different learning styles of students, they just are not official APSs. PA Dept of Ed has not approved any new APSs in well over a decade, but that’s a different rant for a different day. What that usually means is, the private school if it is not an APS, does not have to provide FAPE. Therefore, since your district is bound to providing FAPE for your child, the team will not agree to a non-APS private school as an IEP placement.

Settlement Agreements and Private Placement

You will have to get this as a settlement agreement, but then agree to waive your child’s right to FAPE. This is not as scary as it sounds once you’ve gone through this process. You are just putting your faith in this private school, that it is the most appropriate placement for your child even though it is not an APS. Some of these placements will not have IEPs, though they will have something similar. They are not held accountable to FAPE and IDEA. I strongly recommend you seek an attorney’s assistance for this.

You should also consider all aspects of LRE and placements within your home district and neighborhood school.

Home District IEP Placement options:

At the back of your child’s IEP, there should be something that looks like this:

IEP penndata reporting

The state requires districts to report these LRE statistics. As such, this leaves you with several options for your child’s placement.

  • In Gen Ed classroom full day with push-in supports, including a 1:1 aide
  • Pull out for some subjects
  • Going to resource room for additional instruction
  • at neighborhood school, but in specialized classroom for all or part of the day
  • Needs a specialized classroom, but that is in a different building within same district

All of these options MUST be considered before moving to an APS.

But, the reason that you are reading this blog post is because you’ve likely considered all of these options and you want to know what else is out there. You’re considering asking for a private placement, and what to know what is available for your child. Ok, here you go!

Other Placement Options

These are listed by county, but you’ll have to look at the websites yourself to see what they offer. I didn’t want to pigeon-hole any one school and have you overlook it because I did not list your child’s disability next to it. If that makes sense. There also is some overlap-some of these schools are actual APSs but not every APS is on this list.

I did put their motto (if they had one) behind the name so you could get an idea of whether or not to pursue it.

IEP Private Placement Options-Chester County, PA

  • Delaware Valley FriendsPaoli; “Where bright students with learning differences discover a new way to learn and thrive.”
  • Woodlynde School– Strafford “Where Great Minds Learn Differently”
  • White Clay Learning Center-Toughkenamon (Kennett area); “Navigating Individualized Instruction Today for an Inclusive Community Tomorrow”
  • The Concept School-Westtown; “Where Unique Minds learn in Unique Ways”
  • Devereux of PA, see below; “Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health changes lives – by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences.”
  • The Phelps School-Malvern, “For a better man”
  • The Timothy School-Berwyn; “teaching children with autism to be children.” You can also see what an advocate thought of the Timothy School in Berwyn.
  • The CDC-Coatesville, this is operated by the IU, so not a private school per se. But it is a more restrictive placement.

IEP Private Placement Options-Delaware County, PA

IEP Private Placement Options-Lancaster County, PA

IEP Private Placement Options-Lehigh County, PA

  • The Hillside School-Macungie; “All brains are wired differently; we help make the connection!”

IEP Private Placement Options-Montgomery County, PA

IEP Private Placement Options-New Castle County, Delaware

  • The Pilot School– Wilmington; “Unlocking the Potential”
  • Centreville Layton School-Centerville; “Auctus Effectio Profectus” (which translates into: advancing increased realization)
  • The College School-Newark, on University of Delaware campus; “The College School serves students in first through eighth grade who demonstrate learning, attention, mild social/emotional, and/or mild behavioral issues that may impact school success.”

IEP Private Options with multiple campuses in our area; other

  • Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health-multiple locations in PA; “Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health changes lives – by unlocking and nurturing human potential for people living with emotional, behavioral or cognitive differences.”
  • Easter Seals of Southeastern PA-multiple locations
  • Lakeside School– 4 locations, “Lakeside School accepts regular and special education students in grades 6–12 who need a small, structured and nurturing therapeutic environment where academic success is a priority”
  • Valley Forge Educational Services-Malvern, includes Vanguard School
  • Y.A.L.E. School Philadelphia-Manayunk; “Where evidence based learning and compassion come together”
    Merakey Education and Autism-multiple locations in PA; formerly known as NHS school; “Enriching lives by providing exceptional services through an individualized approach.”

Whew! That was a lot of linking. If I missed one, please leave a comment, and I will update. Please include the link, thanks.

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