Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Angela—

    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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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 …

  15. 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?

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. If I have to wait till the annual IEP meeting to determine placement, and this then precludes my child from being able to apply for an education choice scholarship or voucher by Department of Education rules, what recourse do I have. Annual IEP meeting is not required until 5/21/10. Application must be submitted by private school the child will attend by 4/16/10. The application requires the name of the Kindergarten program the child will attend.

  19. I would tell you to contact the highest legal department in your state and when all else fails contact the local media. It always makes me stop and think how quickly the wheels of justice roll when the media begins to bring names, offices, faces for all to view. Also contact the organizations in your area and nationally to see what can be done.

    Good Luck.

    I am simply a mother, teacher assistant and student going for my degree in Elementary Education/SPecial Education (Dual Major)


  20. My son has a ld certified in math. doing well in all other gen ed classes. up until the 8th grade he was in sp. ed math. this year in conjunction with his sp ed teacher we placed him in gen ed math with a guided studies class. he is doing d+ work. but our dispute is that he is not getting a concentrated hour of help in guided studies for math, unlike gen ed students who get 2 hours for math. my son doesnt like the idea of being labeled sp. ed and wants to be in a gen ed math class and understands his math weakness. we had our iep and the high school is refusing to provide sp ed support for my son via a gen ed class. what we asked for is a gen ed math with a tutorial class and a teacher/consultant overview for monitoring to ensure that he is falling. what are our rights.

  21. To avoid the stay put position through litigation, could we reqeust that our child be removed from Special Education, thereby being removed from the resource room and later reqeust an evaluation for determination of a disability to provide an IEP, but without the resource room placement. Our son has ADHD, is not disruptive to th class and wants to be in his regular classroom and wants to be recieving the same education as his peers. We know this is possible, but might require modifications and possibly an aid for re-direction due to his distractability. However, after observing him myself in class, he does self-correct, sometimes a little late missing some of the fast moving teacher verbal input, directions, etc.

  22. My son is starting middle school in a new district. His IEP states he will be placed in a general education classroom with support from a resource specialist/paraprofessional. The new school does not have a co-planning setting for language arts. The school combines RSP and SDC kids together for language arts and social studies!! My son should not be in a self contained classroom. I will fight the district on this one.

  23. My son is 10 and High functioning autism…was in public school system for grades 1,2,3,4, in his nieghborhood school and recieved services from the Resource Room. Now we move to new district for grade 5. They won’t serve him in his neighborhood school and want him in an autism classroom in a different school. I disagreed so they gave me prior written notice. that evening i got an email from the director of special ed stating that if i brought my son to his neighborhood school, the police would remove him and return him to my home. HELP. What do i do? His IEP specifically says neighborhood school and resource room not Autism room.

  24. Our child has an IEP with both some learning and social elements. He is not a behavior issue whatsoever. He has ADD and visual motor issues.The school has clustered a number of ‘minor’ IEP kids in the same teacher for next year for the convenience of an aide in the class. The other kids aren’t really a good role model for our son. Does it violate LRE or some other protocol by grouping the kids like that? How is our child to learn from other non disabled kids, when they group them like this? Do you have any advice?

  25. The district refused to evaluate my child so I had him evaluated and based on the documentation I provided. Self contained classroom was recommended UNTIL the paperwork could be prepared for him to enter a private setting to receive intensive remediation, but all he got was general ed with SPED support for 10 mins per class. How come the school doesn’t have to follow the recommendation for the IEE if they never evaluated the child and only have the documentation I supplied to go on?

  26. Yes, It has happened to myself as well. My son is 10 with autism, mainstreamed with special ed aide support parttime for help with difficult subjects-math. He has OT for 7 years with the school district,same with Speech therapy.This year the IEP meeting was very difficult with OT having pre-drafted a severe cut in OT time,did not bring justification for this cut to meeting,just kept saying”it was time to move on”.I said NO-No deal, the time written on last years OT for IEP stands,since not everyone at IEP meeting is in agreement. OT must provide better detailed service direction plan,with data(written)to show to parent how goals are being met.If this was not acceptable to OT,then I as parent would be willing to go to district to request hearing/mediation. Parents must know your rights,even the best school staff with Phd(s) will lie.

  27. This is not the law in the 7th Circuit.

    We know, because it cost us $200,000 to have the 7th Circuit overrule the judge and find that even thought predetermination did occur, the school district did not have to pay for it.

    We took the case to the Supreme Court, and they refused to hear it, even though four other districts have ruled against predetermination.

    I would also suggest that you find a different special education attorney to go into the courtroom than who you have write the briefs. Writing briefs takes special talent, and while our attorney won in the courtroom, he made a couple errors in the brief writing that probably cost us the case – but we’ll never know…

    Our child is now in college and doing well – private placement is just something that you have to do, and hope someone agrees to help you pay for it.

  28. This scenario just happened to us. Our twin sons were placed in a non public school three years ago by the K-8 school administration when they were in 7th grade. We are thrilled with the school and the boys love it there. Now that they have achieved some success, our LEA wants us to agree to move them back to public school! This is not in the boys’ interests.

    Now they are attempting to hold an IEP without any teaching staff from the boys’ school. They claim the school staff is unavailable because of summer break. Can they hold an IEP without the teacher or anyone who worked with our son?

  29. I am a special educator currently in a graduate program for special education. I am taking a special education law class this semester, and from what I have read so far parental consent must be obtained for IEP revisions and any changes in placement. Also, parents must be provided with prior written notice of any proposed change to the child’s services and or placement.
    Several areas have family advocacy groups that will provide assistance to families of children with special needs. The family advocacy group in my area offers parent and child rights advocates to go to IEP meetings with families. Talk to other parents in your area or special education personel to find out your local family advocay groups.

  30. My grandson is a 7 years old, High Functioning PDD-NOS. We refused to sign his IEP, because the goals were not measureable and they were recommending an extended school year for reading, speech, and OT. However, the extended school year would be in their summer fun program and it’s for only 5 weeks. When we ask for it to be extended for the whole summer the special ed director said that their staff needs vacation too. We did not ask for the extended school year, they recommended it, never asking for our input. We were given a draft IEP at the meeting to review. We also asked if the parents would be able to observe a couple of times during the year and the director said NO we have a school policy that prohibits observations by parents. He is placed in the regular ed class, with a para all day, resource room for language Arts,Speech

  31. I am a special education teacher at an elementary school. I feel that parents are important members of the IEP team. Decisions should not be made without their input and/or approval. There are instances where decisions are made without parents, however this is rare. It should all be about what is in the best interest of the child.
    I agree that moving this child is not in his best interest. He has developed relationships over the years and it is important that he finish school where he and the family are comfortable.

  32. We paid $10,000 to an Attorney who I now know should have advised us to seek representation after placing my 3-yo son in public school. We filed Due Process and after $10,000, let our Atty go. The school has 20 so-called witness’s to call.

    Should I file a grievance with the State Bar Assoc?

    No Attorney will take our case Pro Bono, because we make too much money, ha ha. We are struggling just to keep our heads above water.

    Is there any type of pamphlet advising parents of the mistakes I made filing due process without placing my son in district? We didn’t want to place our son in the district program for fear of regression.

  33. My son was diagnosed with PDD and he was placed out of district because the school said that they did not have the proper tools to help him excel. Now he has been in the school for thirty days and they are requesting a 1:1 to help in minimizing his agressive behavior. Now the district is refusing and wants to bring him back to the school who said they didnt have the tools to deal with him. What can I do?

  34. I would like to know just what exactly our rights as a parent are. What can we do, what can we not do, who has say in what, and what happens if we disagree with the district.

  35. What is the parents role in placement. My daughters school is doing somthing similar. I medical documintaion from 3 professinals stating that she should attend a certin school and they have not considered the documintaion. I was told in my tri annual that we could not discuss placement for my child and she graduates in 2 weeks and we are not sure where she will be and what to do. I was also told that the represenative from the disctict did not have to attend the tri because we were not going to dicsuss placement. What would be the next step?

  36. My son has PDD-NOS. He has always been in a VE setting in a LRE. This past year after the IEP in May 2008 I adamantly told the team that he would attend his zone school in those settings. They decided to place him in a new pilot program which is a self contained ASD classroom. He has suffered this year with no progress whatsoever. Adapting and copying inappropriate aggressive behaviors from other ASD peers. On top of that, his time to be spent with non-ese peers was reduced to 0%. That has never ever been so. I have a revision in just a few days and I was clear about stating that his current placement is not in any way conducive to his progress and/or needs. I fear they might once again go over my head even if I am part of the team and have to agree on his placement. They will decide without me. Help!!!!!

  37. The U46 school districts Superintendent called our home last night and told my daughter that due to budget cuts in 7 different
    special education classes (he has Autism) they have cut his class completely in the fall. But THEY told her he would be bussed to another town almost 1 hour away. My daughter told them that was NOT acceptable. He doesn’t ride the bus due to paranoia. The Superintendent made it sound like she had NO choice. School is almost over in 20 days. Now we don’t have time for an IEP meeting. He’s not ready to be mainstreamed yet, he’s 10 with level of 4-5 year old. I think we need an Advocate but where do we find one?

  38. To follow up, if a school denies stay put for mediation, I have seen parents ask for an impartial hearing. They let the hearing officer know they want to go to mediation, but the school would not allow stay put so it left them no choice.

    Generally, hearing officers will order stay put and STRONGLY encourage mediation. Almost without fail, I have seen mediation produce an agreement.

  39. Our district invited two attorneys to our last meeting even though only one was on the invitation. (They have been cited for this very thing before. ) Our son is in a private placement at the district’s expense following a period of 5 years where they denied him services, he was assaulted, and multiple citations were issued. In years past he has either never taken an End of Course test or the district stated that the final exam of the course would be sufficient. Our current IEP, that was signed off on by the entire team, including the 2 attorneys for the district, states that he will not participate in EOC testing. Our State Department has said that we did not have to sign a new IEP once put in place in the past. Can they withhold a state issued high school diploma (he has straight A’s) because we followed the IEP that was put in place?

  40. My eleven year old grandson has multiple issues, gifted,bi- polar,ADHD. He has an IEP. We asked for three options for him for school next year, the District is refusing to offer any options but the junior high school near us.
    Last year the team wanted him to skip from fifth to sixth grade mid year. This was his home school’s idea not ours. I took him to visit the junior high. When we met as a IEP team the next week, the junior high school said it wasn’t a good idea to place him in that school.
    Now, one year later, the rest of the IEP team thinks he should attend that junior high next year.
    Reasons opposing this placement:
    1) the Special Education team leader at the junior high stated they have never provided help for children in the advanced level classes and she isn’t sure how to do that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *