Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions

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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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123 Comments on "Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions"

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I’m parent advocate. Child w/Intellectual Disabilities was placed by LEA in state-approved non-public school 3 yrs ago as part of mediation ag’ment pursuant to state admin complaint filed by parent re: FAPE. LEA wants to return student to LEA. During IEP meeting, parent asked, “What’s in place now in LEA to meet my student’s needs?” The SpEd Dir, new in her position replied, “Me.” IEP mtg started with draft IEP, which parent did not have a copy of prior to mtg. Under PLAAFP, Student Interests/Prefs, first line read, “‘Student’ is transferring from ‘non-public’ school to ‘LEA.'” Parent, I & attorneys agree this appears to be predetermination of placement prior to IEP development. Does anybody know of written OSEP guidance or Case Law that will be helpful. We’re invoking stay put.

Can a parent tell the IEP team they do not care if a child makes academic progress as long as they are in a setting that will improve their social skills. Parent says academic progress is not important

Yes, but the law requires that schools teach students the state academic curriculum. The school is also to address all of the student’s needs which includes social skills. So the IEP team needs to reach a balance between these requirements..

I’m reading this thread on placement issues and I have a question too. My ASD mainstreamed daughter started a new school last March after a year of homeschooling, which we did due to intense (and ignored) bullying. We pulled her when she started to decompemsate, one battle after another with principal. IEP got botched. We never signed it. Big mess. New school: principal seems to have bias. Followed old, outdated IEP (the one we never signed), which we objected to (too restrictive), THEN principal moved our daughter UP a grade level without testing or data (minus her math class, which was grade level). It’s led to countless problems. We have advocate. Is this move legal under FAPE?

We are having similar problems with our son, had to be moved due to bullying by principle, new principle seemed pre-biased by administration. The school district unable/unwilling to meet needs of child-stand firm-have to get education lawyer/for special needs child ASD & ADD and take them to court, also get media involved, this seems to be the only way to get results. We moved to SC from NY. The school system down here is 20 years behind the rest of the country. But through this we will get private school placement that will meet his needs: willingly, with transportation’ at the school systems expense. If the school system cannot meet your child’s needs then this option. Keep all communication records, emails, notes, records. The bullying can be grounds for lawsuit.

Can a child be put into a “controlled classroom” some children call them “Fundies classes” or a smaller classroom, a classroom for children with A.D.H.D issues, disruptive children or children with learning disabilities, Just based only on his or her personal, home and family life ? And not because they are disruptive and have no learning disabilities what so ever ? would this or wouldn’t it be discriminatory towards the child especially if this child does not have any of the above issues. This specific child had said that he received bullying and shamming for the fact that he was put into these classes who does not have any of the above issues! SO may some one on this thread please give me some answers if school can put child into one of these classes because of this reason ?!?!

Hi James,

No they cannot be put into in Fundies class based on a home life. It sounds like the teacher can’t deal with the student and won’t help at all. Even if the student had issues like you mentioned they have to work with the parents to decide his placement.

I am having the same issues with my child, I am looking for this information too. Have you recieved any answers?

My 7yo son was in a 15:1:1 class with a classification of ED. We ended the school year with the school district recommending a therapeutic school the only way to look at the school was to sign an Out of Placement form which we did so. After visiting the school we felt that it is not the right placement for him and told them so. They said that since the class he was in was unable to meet his needs and that there is only one SpEd class in the district for his grade he cannot go back. Their concern is that he is cognitively brighter than the other kids in the class that combined with the lack of impulse control and behaviors he has shown in the school setting last year will make it difficult to find any placement for him. Is it possible to not have a placement for him-What do we do next?

State & federal law gives parents the right to request help from the state in getting appropriate services for their child. Your state parent training and information center can assist you in your rights, and how to contact the state.

My son who has Ds is scheduled to start K in our new district/state. They are pushing for placement at the cluster program school for intellectual disabilities. We would like him to be educated with his siblings and neighborhood peers at the closest school to our house which has a spec. ed teacher, PT/OT/Speech and adaptive phy ed already in place and serves other children with specific learning disabilities, speech/language and sig developmental delay. They say they don’t have the resources at that school therefore he must attend the program school. It seems because he has a diagnosis of Ds, they have predetermined his need to be at the program school. Any thoughts or advice, school starts next Tues.

The home campus may not have the resources now, but the question is what resources are needed there to be able to serve your child. On this site’s homepage find LRE/Inclusion to find good resources to assist you in working with the school. Work with the special ed director, not just the campus staff. Your state parent training & information center can assist you also.

My daughter is blind and hearing impaired she has a hearing aid . She’s an amazing 13 year old and has always been mainstreamed, she just started middle school. Last year before the end of school we had a IEP put in place for the beginning of the year the principal at this school has made it clear that she’s not going to work with us . She has called her own IEP to determine if they are going to try to move her to another school in a closed classroom. Madison has her own parapro that stays with her through out the day and we can’t understand why this is happening. They lied to us about the resource class they have her in now , it turns out it’s a class for students with behavioral problems. We have every IEP since she was about 3 years old and nothing like this has ever been in place .

1. Hire an advocate or an attorney to attend this meeting with you – you have a lot of different issues at play, and the school sounds like it’s going to fight dirty.
2. Check your IEP carefully. Where does it say she will be educated? Is she to be educated in a regular classroom for any percentage of time? Remember, they are required to educate her in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). If she kept up in mainstream classrooms before, then that’s her LRE.
3. Invite her para to the meeting. She could provide insight into what’s going on, but remember, as an employee of the district, she’ll be under pressure to keep her mouth shut and toe the line.
4. If the principal refuses to work with you, file a state complaint. They can’t do that. Good luck!

If you have not done so, involve the special ed director. They might have some influence with the principal. Your state parent training & information project will be able to assist you.

My son is 5 and got accepted to an out of district school over a month ago now it’s 3 weeks away from the start of the school year and we received a email saying : We regret to inform you that your transfer request for your child to attend has been denied for the 2017-18 school year due to space
How should I go about this???

If the district followed their policy on accepting out of district transfers, there is probably little that you can do. Your state parent training & information can be a source to assist you with your options.

I am working on a Masters in Special Education and I am trying to understand when it would be ok to have the student share their insight when there needs to be a change in their placement. I understand that the special education teacher and general education teacher have opinions on when the student needs a change in placement, whether it is less restrictive, or more restrictive. Mostly it is always the parents deciding the placement and the student is left out of the dialogue. At what grade/age is it important to bring the student’s insight into the discussion? Why is it important to include the student’s opinion into the discussion?
Is there a link I can go to to read about this information?
Thank you for your help,

FYI, the student MUST be given the opportunity to participate in his/her IEP meetings at age 14. However, if they’d are able to meaningfully contribute before that, the parent can “invite” them when they sign the Prior Parent Notification.

On this home page click on self-advocacy, & you will find a start on info on this issue.

Our school is requesting an out of district placement for our 6 year old son and we support this decision. He has a very rare disease and a complex medical profile. He can also have behavioral issues.
We found a private special education school that would accommodate his learning style and behavioral needs. We offered to send him out of district with his own 1:1 nurse. The school said that academically he would be a perfect fit but because of his medical needs they are not comfortable with him there. They reported they would not have enough room for his 1:1 nurse in the classroom setting. Is it legal to deny him admittance due to his need for a nurse? Does this violate ADA?

My 6 year old son with high functioning autism was diagnosed this year. We have been highly involved in the IEP process and goals. The problem is that I have moved and am now considered “out of district” for his current school. The school system states that he must be moves to his in district school next year. However, I along with his teachers and therapists believe this will cause undue set backs in his learning when I am willing and able to provide transportation. The district says they will not make accommodations for him and autism is more common now than uncommon. So shouldn’t they know how important structure and consistency are? Is this a fight worth taking on? Is there any chance I will win what I believe is in the best interest of my son?

My 11 year old have adhd /ODD he have an IEP and also in special education room. His is taking medication. He insisting he doesn’t want to be in special education room with more than 10 children. I want to move him in LRE and I ask for a meeting to change him in Regular classroom but still qualifies for his service. They seems arguing with me that my son will not success there. but for the last couple weeks he seems good and improving in regular classroom. What do to? Please I need some advice.

Your state parent training & information project can assist you.

I was just given a letter since our child is out of district he is being denied to continue going to school he has been going to for 4 years to be in a special autism classroom program…now they want to deny him to come back because he is a out of district child…what do we do..

Study the district policy that they are using to make their decision. It may give you some options. If your child is out of district they have the right to refuse service, if they choose to or charge a tuition.

Our daughter will be in 3rd grade next year and has been in Gen Ed/Resource since she started Kinder (she has down syndrome). She has consistently made great progress on her IEP goals and modified curriculum and doesn’t have behavioral issues.. This year the district is trying to strong arm us into agreeing to a change in placement to a self-contained classroom with very little resource or gen ed time. Their argument is that 3rd grade curriculum is much harder and she won’t be able to do what the other kids are doing. They won’t listen to our concerns and are standing strong on the placement which we will not agree to as we feel it is moving backwards from inclusion. Do we have the right to fight for her to remain where she is or do we have to go along with the district recommendation?

Becky, You need to know what your state education agency, & federal court of appeals, says about LRE. Your state parent training & information project can assist you with this. The court should have developed a “test”/guideline on determining LRE (& inclusion). The TX education agency has a document on determining LRE that may be of some help to you.

Teachers and aides can spend more time in contained or small group classrooms teaching math, reading, etc. without rushing and using a variety of approaches to learning. Many students in those classrooms do go out for specials like gym, music, etc. My child benefitted more from less inclusion during the middle school years to obtain more remediation. That small group time prepared her for high school regular courses and now college. Be aware of what your school truly means by contained and look at all the pros/cons. In upper grades, inclusion may result in her being tracked in the lowest performing group of kids in regular classroom with behaviors and issues. My child was involved in activities outside of school to meet other typical kids, etc.

Our school is pushing to send our daughter to an alternate school that both of us parents and her therapist do not believe is a healthy setting for her. They are saying they can’t control her behavior. This behavior is new as of 6th grade and she is now in 7th. In Oct we began the CSP which has not been successful and early Nov we asked for an evaluation for special education. The school staff has told us that our daughter is severely emotionally disturbed on more than one occasion. She went from perfect attendance and great grades to continuos suspensions and failing grades. She has never had an IEP. We can’t believe that the school can just do this without proper steps. Her behavior is not aggressive and we don’t believe she belongs there. The eval has not even been completed yet.

My child just spent 9 days. In a behavioral hospital. Recommendations were for him to be a small class setting. He has DMDD.The school send him home everyday cause yes he gets upset. They try no techniques for him just send him home. I have tried to comply but now they sending to disciplinary alternative school.The problem he goes for 10 days and then back to the same setting. How is this going to help. He’s not a bad kid just dealt a bad hand.

My daughter is 13 and ASD / ADHD. We are looking into modifying her IEP to include an alternate/private placement . I am nervous that the district will fight us in this process and we will have to take it to court/mediation.

My son was suppose to have resource room, but was switched to coteaching because the resource room teacher had too many kids. There was no meeting and the Iep was changed.

I have a child with ASD that attends a special needs school. The school has said that after this year he will be mainstreamed to a public school. This is a child that is in 5th grade but is at a 2-3 grade level in all studies. His teacher, speech therapist and parents feel that is not a good decision, and could be detrimental. As his parent what can be done to keep him in his current educational setting? I am in florida.

i am writing on behalf of a student I was just introduced to – My question is:If my student has annual reviews but the IEP indicates that his out of school placement is following an old IEP who should re-evaluate him – his home district or the school he is placed in????? It was dated 9/7 and implemented 9/8. thanks for any assistance concerning this issue

My child has a SLD and ADHD. The school wants his special ed. teacher to provide his services in the general ed. classroom. My child complains about other students watching him and the Sp. Ed. teacher mentions the difficulty she has keeping my son’s attention because he is more interested in the other children watching or my son wants to see what the other kids are doing. I’d like the Sp. Ed. teacher to work with him in a less distracting setting. Can I have his IEP changed to reflect this request?

Kathleen – you can request that he receive his services in a separate classroom, but be prepared for some resistance. Many school districts are moving toward an inclusion model as too many students are being removed from their Least Restrictive Environments…meaning we RSP teachers are in general ed classes for much of the day giving our students their minutes. There are many differing opinions about the effectiveness of this model, but nonetheless, this is the direction education is moving toward for students with learning disabilities.

I was recently contacted by my son’s school by phone that they wanted to discuss placement for the fall school year. In the first conversation I had with them they said that the evaluation reports are not complete and I have no copy of what is done. I am uncomfortable giving my permission for placement with out being able to read them and if I have questions being able to ask them. I feel as if I am being rushed to make a decision with out all the facts because they waited so long to start the process. He was in there pre k counts with an IEP. We had a meeting before school ended last year so things would be ready for this year.Yet here we are two weeks before school starts with incomplete reports and to go on the special education administrators recommendation. I don’t know what to do.

Dont sign. Anything unless u agree with it look it over they cant do anything with out u agreeing

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

Can you please provide some citations to applicable court decisions.

My son has ASD and his needs was not being met in his current program. We ended up in a mediation in our district agreeing on NPS & ESY provided by this NPS. During the ESY . NPS informed me that in order to fully meet my son’s need, 1;1 aide, ABA and other services should also provided. The NPS says that they dont have the manpower to provide this services, that’s why they are declining to accept my son this coming SY. With the new SY starting , the district offered a different program more restrictive and we see not appropriate for my son. The director of the NPS informed me that they will accept my son,if support is provided. Should the district have the responsibility to provide this services in order to support my son’s education in NPS program? If now, whats the next move


My daughters school is proposing a placement at a different school in a transitional life skills program in a sub separate room with little to no inclusion other than “specials”. The vision we have for our daughter who was born with 9p duplication -global developmental delays is in a full inclusion GE classroom with her typical developing peers. She has had partial inclusion opportunities (with little support) and has thrived in her social development. Although she is behind academically we believe with a 1:1 and pullouts for ELA/MATH- reading specialist) would be the right placement to receive a FAPE in the LRE. If we decline the “teams” placement option (and we have already gone to mediation)…waiting now to discuss what we think of the placement…what can we do next?

My child has cerebral palsy spastic diplegia finally after a long battle we found a school completed all the five steps and and now my daughter is going to start attending school in September early intervention my daughters physician and school she is attending agrees on getting Para. Cpse administrator decided to tell us that my daughter will be better off in another school of his choice without a Para he then went ahead and forward all information to that school of his choice without any parental consent from us. He also insist that we go and visit the school but like i said ,my wife and i went through the steps and my duaghter is supposed to be starting school in September she has a legitimate spot can the cpse administrator forced my daughter in a school of his choice

Hello. My 13 yr old son is severely autistic. I have recently filed a complaint that his IEP and bip are not being followed. His report card has f’s across the board. I have begged and pleaded that special day service needs should be placed in his IEP so he may find some value and success in life. Two days ago they have recommended that he is homebound because they are not equipped to handle him. Rather than putting what I have requested in his IEP. What do I do?

My daughter has ADHD and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. She was placed in a classroom at school with other children with ADHD and other disorders. The classroom is very disruptive because all the students have problems focusing. Is this discriminating against her and all the other students because they are not mainstreamed with the other students? Instead of teaching, the teachers seem to be working hard just to keep the class under control until the period is over.

What was the out come of this. Your story sounds similar to mine. I am trying to find the steps I need to do to fight the proposed placement.

same here. My daughter has been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and semantic pragmatic disorder and has behavioral difficulties due to her language issues. rather than offer speech and OT svs as the developmental ped recommends, they are recommending placement in a gNETS classroom. I do not agree because the FBA has not been implemented and she is progressing academically in her current pull out (reading/writing) arrangement. I just can’t find where I have power to stop it other than obtain an attorney and battle the very subject to interpretation info about whether they have “attempted” to provide everything they can offer.

Hi Heather,
I am in Atlanta and also had zero success getting the services my son needed. By now, you may have resolved your issue, and I would be interested to know the outcome. However, if she was on grade level, and they had not done and FBA, I assume she didn’t have an IEP. Is this correct? I do not believe they can utilize gNETS w/out having gone through the IEP or at least the 504 process first. I would love to connect w/ you. You can learn so much on your own. And you would be surprised at the interpretation of meeting the standards of provision of services. They clearly have NOT been met. See Sec 300.320 (a)(4)(i – iii) of the IDEA statute to start. I am working on my due diligence complaint w/o an attorney.

We live in one city, but commute to another one for work everyday. My husband, myself, and my 3 y.o. who has CP and is in the spectrum. He is taken care by his grandma who lives in the same city where we work. However, that district denied assessment and IEP because we reside in another city. The District we live in did grant an IEP and is offering our son special ed preschool from 8 to 11, but since we work, that wouldnt work for us. Is there a way to transfer the IEP and have the District where we work provide services since that is the city where my son is the whole day?

What do you do if the IEP IS GREAT its the placement thats the problem. And the school says you have to max out in special eds in ordor to be placed in all day EC classes… Red tape

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?

I have the same problem. My son is hard of hearing he was mainstreaming but recently decided to put him in deaf school.
Not working out for him, he has been there two months. The bullying at the school is making him sick and depressed. He has changed and is no longer enthusiastic about going. What do I do?

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?

Going through something very similar. Do you mind sharing your outcome?

If anyone else has any insight it would be greatly appreciated.

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?

Jenny – Don’t worry or waste emotion. Take action. Request a copy of ALL of her school records. Reference IDEA-20 U.S.C. ss 1415 (b) (1). After careful review, request in WRITING that any misleading / inaccurate info be removed or add an addendum letter to reference the record and correct/ clarify the issue. Reference 34 C.F.R. ss 300.610. Keep it short, factual, free of emotion/blame, have a cool-headed friend review it & bring it to the school in person to add to the file. If possible, casually ask the teacher about it. Last, observe child & teach tricks for staying clean. She might leave your house clean but may arrive messy/dirty. When younger, my son would rub hands on car windows, play in dirt /rocks & wipe his hands on shirt & coat before boarding AM bus. Wipes.

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?

There is no vote in IEP meetings to determine placement. See this blog post:

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