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Karen:  Does a school’s written policy of “educating children with similar needs together” violate the requirement that a child be educated at his neighborhood school?

  1. School districts are not required to have a continuum available in every school building. A school district, for example, might have a self-contained setting or preschool services in some but not all of their school locations. You should review the placement decision with your student’s IEP team to ensure that all four factors are being adequately considered.

  2. Karen –

    School districts ARE allowed to have classrooms that serve students with disabilities with similar needs. If fact, it could be argued that districts are REQUIRED to have such classrooms, or at least make them available to students who need them.

    Here in Massachusetts, these are called substantially-separate classrooms. They generally serve students with the most significant needs, for some or all of the school day. They tend to have smaller staff/student ratios and more structure, and may be built around a particular methodology.

    Again, districts are allowed to have these classrooms. They are NOT allowed to place a student in such a classroom based solely on the student’s characteristics or disability.

    The student’s IEP Team is tasked with developing a student’s IEP. The IEP must be responsive to the student’s individual needs, as determined by evaluation.

    The Team must also identify a placement for the student. The placement must be identified AFTER the IEP is developed and, itself, must be responsive to the IEP. In essence, the placement must be the least restrictive environment where the Team feels the IEP can successfully be implemented.

    • I get that, but can the school tell parents that if they school choice to a non neighborhood school the kids will be able to get better services, IE accommodations are not able to be met at the neighborhood school? This would be for kids who are mainstreamed, but encouraged to attend a school that is more set up for kids with special needs.

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