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Kate: Our son had an IEP in public school for 2 years. He did not make progress. We transferred him to a private school that specializes in LD. We sent a 10-day letter before we transferred him. He had his triannual re-evaluation by the school district this summer. The evaluation maintains he is eligible for an IEP for LD and he needs the kind of instructional methodology his private school provides. We want to consider re-enrolling in pubic school if they can provide him with an appropriate program. So, the district held 5 IEP team meetings to develop an IEP based on the re-evaluation data. After all these meetings, the District now tells us: because your son is in private school he doesn’t get an IEP. He only gets an IEP once we re-enroll him to public school. But we can’t e-enroll him until we know the District has an appropriate program. Why didn’t the District staff tell us this was the policy before they engaged in 5 meetings (apparently wasting more than 11 hours of their time and our time)? Is it true that you have to be enrolled in public school first before you are allowed to have an IEP? Please advise.

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02/03/2016 10:01 pm

Evaluations cannot determine if a child is eligible for special education. That decision has to be made by the IEP team during a team meeting. If this is the case, then you have the right to refuse services. I have been in this situation in a former school district and we developed the IEP and just had the parents refuse the services. This way, we carried through and did our part. On the other hand, if this private school specializes in working with students with specific learning disabilities, they should be able to write an appropriate IEP if they receive the evaluation reports. I am a learning disabilities specialist certified in NH, but am currently working in MA where they don’t require that advanced certification.

Jill G
02/03/2016 7:27 pm

Kate –

Unilateral Placements are a tricky subject. In the cases I’m familiar with, parents have followed the 10-day letter with a request for a due process hearing. The pressure to avoid a hearing often pushes the school to develop a superior IEP. It sounds like the cards didn’t fall quite like this in your situation.

If you plan to move forward with a hearing request (or have already requested one), you may be best to consult with an attorney. The hearing request brings rights (like stay put) that just submitting the 10 day notice does not. An attorney can help you wade through your rights, plus help you negotiate a better IEP if going back to the public school is a possibility.