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Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions

by Wrightslaw

My child attends school ‘out of district’ because our district had no program for a multiple needs-high needs student. He has one year left of school (age 20).

Now the home school district wants to save money by making a new classroom for this program. My son will need to move and adjust to another change. No one feels it is in his best interests to be moved.

Decisions about placement are to be made after the child’s IEP is developed. Parents are members of any team that develops the IEP and decides on placement.

IDEA Section 1414(e) requires that the school “…ensure that the parents of each child with a disability are members of any group that makes decision on the educational placement of their child.”

If the school places a child in a private placement because they could not meet his/her unique and complex needs…

And then the school decides to return the child to the public school without holding an IEP meeting where this decision is made…

The school has predetermined the child’s placement.

Courts have held that schools may not predetermine placement. The placement decision must be made by the team.

If the parents, staff at the private placement, etc. disagree with a proposed placement, the school is required to provide them with written notice. Written notice (PWN) includes several requirements. See IDEA Section 1415(b)(3).

If a parent decides to fight this, and because the law is interpreted differently around the country, I would advise the parent to consult with an attorney who has expertise in special education law and litigation.

I doubt you actually need to retain an attorney. In this case, a parent does need advice about how to proceed so their child can remain in the current educational placement.

If there is litigation, the current placement becomes the “stay put” placement – the child must remain in that placement until litigation ends.

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65 Comments on "Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions"


Does this apply to public school placement as well? Can the team have input on the placement of the student prior to the next school year?


Can a private school, listed as part of the school boards schools, transfer my child back into the public school system because they tell me do not think “I” am happy with their program? Even though I have stated in email and in verbal contact with director that I am. What parent isnt fully happy with a program? I am willing to understand their fears but they made this decision without me or my husband over summer. Now they want ME to contact the school board, stating they are “waiting for my call” about where they will place him next. I feel this is very inappropriate.


I need some help on how to get my special needs six year old to attend a different school from the one in our district. I was very unhappy with that school and the things that took place there. How can i get my son enrolled in a better school that may or may not be in our district as well as provided transportation back and forth?


my sons sdc is being moved without any parents input. all 15 kids are so upset over this. we as parents went to the last school board meeting and spoke to them about the move. of course they had no response, nor did i expect one. the reason given for class move was so they could make room for more general ed. kids that are projected to attend the school next year. can they do this? i keep asking myself why they would do this, these kids have a hard enough time with school. let alone moving to another location and having to adjust to new teacher, students, ect. but then i remember oh yeah its a school they are just there to make money! does anyone know of anything we can do?


I just want to know if parents have the right to refuse private placement once the child’s emotional disability has been corrected and the child could thrive in a regular classroom setting.


I requested an Independent evaluation for my child because I didn’t agree with the county’s evaluation or placement. When the psychologist gave me back the report she stated that one of the teachers wrote that my child “only sometimes goes to school clean.” When I asked the principal about this he reported that the teacher said that on one occasion my child asked the teacher to change her shirt because it was dirty. Even if this was true the report that my child only sometimes goes to school clean will stay in her record forever. The school will not change this and the report is inaccurate. It is very disturbing to us because it seems that the teachers lied and marked our child low on every possible option so that they would send her to a self-contained autism class. The teacher lied. Is there anything else we could do?


My daughters special ed teacher decided to give us the same IEP from last year??? Is this legal, she didn’t even make out a new one!


My daughter is ID with severe cognitive disabilities, her Neuro-Psych testing showed she has the mental age of 3-5 year old. She has ED just recently was diagnosed with Schizo-Effective disorder. I had to pull her out of her freshman year in highschool because school had become a trigger for the ED and SE. Since Junior High I have been fighting with them for a proper placement. Will doctors and the Neuoro Psych results be enough to get her into the right program? Advocates and Attorneys cost a fortune!!


My nephews district changed their ESY placement from self contained special ed to co-taught general ed, since this is what the district offers. I did not agree to the change but did agree to observe the program as the district stated it would meet their needs. I later received an IEP with the ESY placement changed. I observed the placement and it does not meet their needs, but the district says they don’t offer anything else. What to do?


Our son is a out of district transfer student to a small rural school. Over all he has been accepted by the kids and likes most of the teachers and staff. We have had on going issues with one para’s attitude and lack of following the IEP and the sped teacher off and on. We’ve tried to just get a long but have meet with the administration 2 times. After the second meeting the sped teacher met with one of our sons coaches and told him the school might not let him return next yr is he didn’t get along with them. Further they were no longer going to help him.
Under what grounds can they refuse to allow him to return next yr? He makes a’s and b’s and the only discipline problem was when he was frustrated and needed a break, as allowed in his IEP, and they refused.


My stepson has trisomy 9q, nonverbal, doesn’t walk, fed through g tube. School district has failed him in regards to IEP . No general education. Denied placement at special school. Do step parents count as a vote in placement process?


Placed son in specialized private school after public refused to provide accommodations to meet his needs. First year of private went well until end very end of the year. Son developed huge anxiety this year (I have shown both schools that he has a very severe executive function deficit-dx. with ADHD-combinded type. School wants to place him in a therapeutic LD school or deem him an emotional or behavioral problem. Evidence is clear as to diagnosis. School may try to change eligibility to meet their needs, not his. Private school asked us to withdraw him before his annual IEP meeting. Current IEP is NOT appropriate to meet his needs.
He is now at home on medical leave. Local attorney told us she couldn’t help us.


I have a question. The school place my son in a self contained class without even consulting me. I had no part to the decision. They made the decision without including me and the IEP is not even set. Can they do that?


My son will be receiving ESY beginning on July 15. He is Deaf and currently has a deaf ed certified teacher. His IEP states this as well. My question/concern is that the school is saying they can not find a deaf ed teacher for my sons one month of ESY in the summer.
What can I do as a parent to make sure that they have a qualified teacher in place and are following his IEP.


PLEASE HELP – MY 9yr old son had just been diagnosed with PDD-NOS and SPD!His current IEP Disablity label is OHI/ SEVERE SPEECH IMPAIREMENT – he also has ADHD,severe anxiety disorder, as well as other medical problems. The school are saying that they will not change his diagnosis on his IEP and are going to leave it as OHI! Are they allowed to do this?? PLEASE HELP


My daughter is in a first grade inclusion classroom with SPED and IA support. She has made progress and/or met all of her IEP goals this year. Her IEP team has decided that she needs to receive pullout special ed services next year for 60 min. of math and 75 min. of reading. It is my understanding that if she is making progress toward her IEP goals that we should not have to change her placement, I’m I correct? The school’s argument is that my daught is further behind everyone else acdemically and she will need specialized instruction that cannot be delievered in the classroom. We feel if she is making progress both academically and socially she is in the correct placement?


tengo un hijo de 18 anos con autismo el distrito quierecortar la terapia de habla en grupos de 3 y dar a todo el grupo de una sola vez. ellos le llaman terapia programada, No aparecera en IEP como mandatorio . Si no en los comentarios de IEP. mi hijo califica para recivir educacion hasta que cumpla 21. Por ahora no firme. Debido a los recortes economicos, hay demasiados problemas .Tenemos que luchar para que el reciva por lo menos 3 secciones de terapia de habla en grupo de 2 0 3. esta situacion es muy dificil como madre quisiera dar a mi hijo la mejor educacion.


I am currently trying to have my daughter placed in the school district in a local area public school due to ongoing harassment and bullying by a large group of her peers. Can this be achieved through an iep meeting with her iep following her to the new district?

Sharon L.

Monica – My son has dyslexia and I was told that the laws are changing to allow students to be read to that qualify for it. In other words the student has to be diagnosed as having dyslexia or some other impairment that qualifies for him or her to have tests read to them. My other two sons used to get the tests read to them but do not qualify now because they are ADHD and ADD/SLD only. I don’t agree but that is what they are doing in our state (ohio).


The IEP team is refusing to move my daughter (she does not speak) to an established school that communicates in sign because she is not deaf. There are two other children that are not deaf in that classroom. They made an exception for the one boy after a long battle with the school board. They will not do the same for my daughter. We are on the fence with filing a “due process” application. They do not sign at her present school. Signing is her main means of communication. Any suggestions for convincing this IEP team to agree with placing my daughter at this other location ? thank you. Lou


I was wondering, does anyone have any information of the laws that are changing in Kentukcy for trying to get an IEP for your child? I was informed that the laws are changing in Kentucky that will not allow children to have certain stuff read to them when they have a reading disability, or an iep for that. I was also told that your kentucky school system was okay with the law as that they were trying to change. Can someone help me with this to get it stopped to help the kids….Thanks….


Does stay-put last through ALL appeals all the way to the Supreme Court?


I am finding that is not always the case even though it should be. I have a couple of families that I am working with that their child’s placement was changed with in the school with out the parent’s approval. I have the parents requesting an IEP meeting and showed them your website along with the IDEA regs you gave us in your books to reference so when they go into the next meeting they can be prepared and get her into the correct placement. The child was moved from secluded classroom settings to mainstreamed and the parents did not feel they were ready.


Our daughter has a classification of EBD. She has bipolar disorder and is 13. She has been in a point/level system for 5 years which basically has meant that she has to “earn” her way into regular ed classes and priveleges such as eating lunch with reg ed peers. She is placed in an alternative high school and spends half of her day with other EBD kids, all boys. We want to unilaterally remove her from this placement and place her in a nearby charter school. We will want our home district to pay for transportation. Besides giving 10 day notice, is there anything else we need to do? Thank you.


What does it mean when the IEP is written in DRAFT, by the Spec Ed Teacher and copies of the draft are sent home to the parent, not to the rest of the IEP Team; AND on the LRE/Placement, they already have it marked as to placement (80% in Reg Ed Class, 40%, etc) AND Justification for said placement, then in the notes, (the child is in a Senior Class, but is Cognitively Impaired and has had trouble in the High School Environment) the teacher indicates “SO AND SO, IS ELIGIBLE TO ATTEND BRIDGE PROGRAM AFTER THEIR SENIOR YEAR. It is their Senior Year, and this has been noted each year since 9th grade, but now the School Administration instructed me to “see this program” and they are PUSHING IT HARD, The IEP was done in Jan 2011, now they are talking PLACEMENT, without a transition plan; it is a vocational type school.



At my school, we have had such an inclusion class. Our special education teacher was required to be in the regular classroomdouble the number of pull-out minutes indicated on the IEP. So they may be correct that the IEP has not been violated, if they are using this practice.

However, you should have been contacted for a meeting to review the records from the previous school, which was likely when this decision was made. It is mandated that the new school review the records from the other one.

On a positive note, if your son can function in a co-teaching atmosphere, I think that’s great. These kids need to be around their non-disabled peers as much as possible.

The principal has to follow the law, just like everyone else.


My son has an IEP plan and his IEP plan says that he is in a regular class but will be pulled out for reading and math and writing and he was in a regular class but when he changed schools in the middle of october he was changed to an inclusion class. I was told this consists of a regular teacher and a special ed teacher. They did not have his IEP meeting before doing so. I feel his IEP was violated but they keep telling me no. The principle has told me that it was his school and he can do what ever he wanted to do because it was his school.. Is that true?


A parent has the right to ask for a “meeting of the IEP team” and can attempt to amend the IEP, especially when it comes to placement. Ask for an evaluation or a reevaluation and then after the results, talk about placement. it is the IEP team who determines placement, not the district.

Also, research the law, because very few parents realize that an IEP “must be done and/or completed by the time school starts!

If you have a child whose IEP is done in the middle of a school year, then request another meetings. There is nothing (that I have found in my research of 20 USC 1414) that says the IEP must be done by the end of the school year, only the beginning of a new school year.

Get help from one of the many non-profits out there, this site has a list for each state. That is what I did and am doing.


This year my daughter received services in the districts new “learning center” RSP room. Before my IEP meeting I biefly talked with the special education teacher. My daughter had only met 2 goals (occupational theraphy related goals). He also informed me that the school was planning on placing my daughter in “an intensive intervention program” with a special curriculum (specific to that classroom only) for the 4th grade. They claim this is not a SDC. At the IEP meeting I requested placement in a Non-Public School based on the fact that she had made little progress, had only partially met her goals and that they planned on placing her in another “new” program that the district would be implementing in the coming year. My request was denied in a PWN. What can I do? What are my chances if I file for due process.


Sharron, I was reading your response to Lisa, I have the same question as her. What kind of evaluation do you need to ask for in order for a residential placement? I have asked the school about placement before and was told that they would not pay for such services because they were medical issues. I have recently requested an autism evaluation because my son has been diagnosed with AS, but the school fails to recognize this, saying he does not meet the requirements for the autism spectrum in the school setting.

Sharon L.

Lisa – If it is determined by the IEP team that the best placement for you child is this type of placement than the school would pay for it. They usually like to make an assessment first. You can request the assessment and be sure to sign the schools request document after you ask for the assessment in writing because they will not start the 60 day clock to get the assessment done until their paperwork is signed by you. After the assessment you will sit down with them to discuss. if you do not agree you may have an outside assessment done at public expense. You will need to put in writing that you do not agree with their assessment and you do not have to give a specific reason. After the outside assessment is done you will meet again with the school and discuss all options.


I have a question actually. Can the school district be made to fund a residential placement and if so how would I approach the team with it.. or where can I get more concrete information on this subject?


My daughter is in her Senior year and has had at least 3 changes in teachers, which means “she MUST learn the new teacher’s way of teaching”, which I do not agree with. I have repeatedly requested my daughter be kept in school another year, however, the request is DENIED, (3 TIMES), indicating that she “MUST BE WITH HER “SAME AGE” PEERS”. This is wrong, however the education system in Alaska, took 5 years to implement the new laws…up until July 1, 2010, which has left not only my child “behind”, but many others. Now that the program has been implemented, the students who are in the Senior High School have lost out on much of the new rules, and the District WILL NOT allow these students to catch up. They constantly put my daughter on the Honor Roll. GPA 3.78 – 4.00, she is unable to read/write.


I think our program specialist violated this law, because english is our second language. They’re trying to use this to their advantage. telling things that we didn’t. we are still fighting, our son is behind his iep.. we need help.


In Nov.2007 I had a FBA done which showed that the 4th grade Asperger/Autism classroom and staff were responsible for my son’s behaviors. In April 2008 the school changed his eligibility from Autism to EBD & insisted I transfer him immediately. I refused & had a private evaluation done. It showed that he was not EBD, but PDD-NOS instead. Teacher left, eligibility was back to Autism/asperger w/EBD as secondary. Son stayed at the same school & had almost no behaviors during the 2008-2009 year. Kept requesting that EBD be removed completely since it was done to force him out of school.

Son did not have behaviors during 2009-2010. At the end of 2010, behavior group started observing my son. Two months into 2010-2011 the behavior group stated that my son has “NO” behaviors & needs “NO” BIP. Still waiting on final school psychological eval to remove EBD.


I am the advocate in a similar situation in MA where a school came to a team meeting meant to discuss extended school year and unilaterally told the team that the district could meet the student’s needs in district and the student would be returning to the district high school program. The parent rejected this proposal and requested ‘stay put’. The district’s position was that stay put did not apply because the district wasn’t proposing a change in placement, just a change in location. They claimed that their program was identical to the out of district, collaborative program that the child is attending. We went into hearing on the motion for stay put and won the motion, but we are still in the hearing process for the main issue of placement.

To find out how it turns out, visit my blog at


My son has asperger’s and is going into middle school. The new Vice Principal called to say they wanted to try him in an inclusion class, and the special ed teacher and assistant would go with him to every class. I said “he is labeled self contained.” She said that means how much services he gets… I said I thought “self contained” was an environment…

Under placement they put 5bells special ed/general ed. So this would allow them to do this… however I made sure it was clarified what we agreed on, so on the placement page it said he will have 5 bells in special ed and PE or electives with non disabled children.

Call your state Dept. of Ed. disability dept — they are great. They fund schools so the schools are scared of them… After I made an OCR complaint, they all but took me to dinner. They would have had to hire lawyers …


I have a daughter with moderate to servere Downs Syndrome. The county in which we reside does not offer adequate language resources and have claimed they cannot do so. We’ve found an ideal public school in an adjacent county but have been told we cannot attend this school because we do not reside in the county. Other than moving to that county, I am wondering if we have any other options or if we should consider legal actions?


i have an 8 year old son with PDD-NOS high functioning. i am in the process of trying to remove him from the significantly seperate classroom he is in for students with ASD. i feel like the school wants to keep him in the seperate classroom only because of his diagnoses! he is an A+ student with greatly improved social skills. he has alot of friends and seems to do better with his typically developing peers than his ASD peers. he has been in the seperate setting for 6 years and he has benefitted from the program but it is time for him to be in his home school and to be in the regular education setting all the time. he gets OT and speech…he is not on a behavior plan and has alot of sensory issues. i am the chairperson of my local Special Education Parent Advisory Council. every parent should go to their local PAC for help!


Melissa – A parent can request an IEP meeting anytime. We have had as many as 9 IEP meetings in one school year because we could not get on the right track with the school. We always request the IEP meeting via certified letter to the special education director or the principal. This should help get their attention. You do not have to wait until annual review.