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.

  1. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. Hello,

    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?

  13. 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

  14. 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?

    • Jessica, you wrote that you recently filed a complaint that the school was not implementing your child’s IEP and BIP. Who did you file that complaint with? How long ago?

      You need to become an expert on homebound. The school provides “homebound” services when a child can’t attend school, usually for medical reasons because he is confined at home or in a healthcare facility. In most states, a licensed physician must request that the child receive homebound services.

      Homebound instruction is a temporary solution that’s intended to prevent the child from falling further behind while sick. Homebound is not intended to make things easier or more convenient for the school because it is “not equipped to handle him.”

      Placing a child on homebound is a change of placement so the decision should be made by your child’s IEP team. You are a member of your child’s IEP team so you should have a chance to make your views clear. When a child is on homebound, he does not have contact with other children so it is a very restrictive placement option under the IDEA and should only be used when needed.

      Your state department of education will have guidelines for homebound instruction. I suggest that you contact your state dept of ed and request all info they have about special education placements, including homebound.

      I also suggest that you contact your local parent center ( They can help you understand placement issues, behavior problems, and how to get your son the help he needs.

  15. 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.

  16. 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?

  17. 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

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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!

    • Lisa: Get out your Special Education Law book and get up to speed on your rights and your child’s rights. You are part of the IEP Team that develops and reviews your child’s IEP. IDEA requires the IEP be reviewed “not less frequently than annually” – to determine whether your child’s goal are being met and if he is making/not making progress.

      Did the IEP team determine this before “the teacher gave” you the IEP?

      Who’s on the team: 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(B) Parents are listed first in the law as a member of the team. Your child’s teacher is also “one” of the members.

      How the IEP is developed: 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(3)

      Requirements for review and revision (during the year, or at least once a year): 20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(4)

      Wrightslaw: All About IEPs, Chapter 3, Parent Participation and Consent and Chapter 11, Reviewing and Revising the IEP will be a big help.

      Another good article to read: How Can I Get My Child’s IEP Changed?

  25. 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!!

  26. 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?

  27. 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.

  28. 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?

  29. 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.

    • If student has behavior difficulties, there should be a behavior plan, or behavior intervention plan in place which outlines behaviors and strategies for resolving issues that may occur.

  30. 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?

  31. 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.

    • Kudos to you, mom, for not taking the summer off from advocating for your son’s needs! The first question to ask your school is what attempts have been made to find a teacher-of-the-deaf (ToD) for ESY? All too often, the (usually unstated) answer is that the school hasn’t actually tried to find a qualified individual. Schools often build their summer school staff from teachers who want the extra bucks for the light-load of ESY teaching. It’s uncommon to find a school that plans for ESY based on the needs of the students themselves.

      So start asking (in writing) the standard Wrightslaw 5-W’s plus H plus E: what, when, who, where, why, how, and politely ask them to explain their answers in a written response. This will show whether the school has indeed made a good faith effort to find a certified ToD. It’s certainly appropriate to ask your son’s regular ToD if s/he was recruited for ESY. That would shed additional light on the subject. If their demonstrated attempts have been unsuccessful, then ask what is available in the neighboring district or reasonably reached region. The possibility of the school transporting your son to an ESY opportunity staffed by a qualified ToD must be considered since it is on his IEP.

  32. 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

    • OHI covers all medical conditions that impede academic success. Autism medical diagnosis criteria are different than school Autism labels. As long as his services are appropriate and staff inderstand all his needs I would not worry about the label. I am a Special Education Teacher.

  33. 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?

  34. 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.

  35. 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?

  36. 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).

  37. 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

  38. 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….

  39. 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.

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