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Public Schools


Public school education is available free of charge to all children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Public schools are funded by local, state, and federal governments and are subject to regulation by each governmental entity. Federal law must be followed by all public schools, while state and local laws and regulations are applicable only to schools within the state or local jurisdiction. When students must begin school and when they are no longer obligated to attend is controlled by state law. In Pennsylvania, for example, the age of required enrollment is 8 (except in Philadelphia, where the age is 6) and compulsory attendance is required until a child is 17 years old.

Public schools are grouped into local school districts, which fall under the jurisdiction of the state in which they are located. Each local school district will have one or more elementary (usually kindergarten through 5th or 6th grade), middle (usually 6th – 8th grade; sometimes referred to as junior high), and high school (usually 9th – 12th grade). Additionally, local school districts may be grouped by county or region. These regional groupings are referred to as "Intermediate Units." Intermediate Units may also operate schools or classrooms. Intermediate Unit schools and classrooms are usually reserved for students at risk (including students with disabilities) or for students seeking alternative placements (such as vocational-technical schools).

Public schools offer special education services for eligible students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that guarantees specially designed instruction for qualified students at no charge. Students who qualify will be given an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and will be monitored to ensure they are making progress. Public schools are also bound by other federal laws, including Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Center for Autism Research and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do not endorse or recommend any specific person or organization or form of treatment. The information included within the CAR Autism Roadmap™ and CAR Resource Directory™ should not be considered medical advice and should serve only as a guide to resources publicly and privately available. Choosing a treatment, course of action, and/or a resource is a personal decision, which should take into account each individual's and family's particular circumstances.