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. My child is in an IEP program (SAS) Supplimentary Aid Services- smaller classroom with some academics like Math and Reading, Science.. The school is now trying to say they are not offering the SAS program anymore and looking to relocate my son to another Middle School in town. He is very active with friends into sports etc.. he just has the academic learning issue. I do not want to move him into another school where he has no friends?

    And that they are suggesting all the severely disabled kids will also be placed in this school as well in a wing of the school. My son has no behavioral issues whatsoever, his reading and math are not up to par. What are my rights??

  2. My son just transitioned to Middle school. I have made it known that he was not to be placed in this extended support classroom. I was suspicious from the get-go and sure enough, he is in this classroom. without my knowledge or consent. I expressed concern over him being in a class with kids who are significantly below grade level, he is coming home with math that looks like it’s first grade material.

    How do I get him out of there?

    • I would love an answer to this too because I am having the same exact struggle with my son who just transitioned to middle school and is in the exact same situation. Not only is he coming home with ridiculously below grade level work, but is also with severely behavioral kids who have massive meltdowns and physical outbursts requiring restraint. My sons comes home constantly and tells me “math was cancelled today because so and so had a meltdown and fought with all the teachers again.”

  3. The parent is advocating for a more restrictive placement at an alternative school (behavioral program). The rest of the team members disagree. Does the parent’s “vote”/opinion outweigh the rest of the IEP team? She has an attorney to represent her.

    • No. But if the child is not making progress in academic learning, & learning appropriate behaviors in the current placement, some actions need to be taken to change this.

  4. My son has an IEP even though he’s never been enrolled in public school. I am considering placement but have concerns. I was told the IEP committee would determine his placement either in an inclusion classroom or a resource room. If he enters and stays in the resource room, then by the end of eighth grade, it is predetermined he is on track for a certificate of completion rather than a diploma. He would have to be in the inclusion classroom by the end of eighth grade to be on track to receive a diploma in high school.

    How much control does the parent have over whether their child receives a certificate of completion or a diploma? If he receives a certificate, he would have to take the GED to attend college, trade school or even satisfy the requirement of having a high school diploma by an employer. In my opinion, that defeats the purpose of all his efforts put forth to graduate high school.

    • Not every state has provisions for certificates of completion. Your state parent training & information project should be able to explain the state rules, & procedures regarding these certificates.

  5. This district is in the habit of having “pre-meetings” in which the school team, or teams if change of placement, meet without parent being informed. They then present to the parent to make a decision. Is this legal?

    • “pre-meetings” are legal, & helpful if they gather information, & help staff prepare. But making decisions to present to the parent are not. Pre-determined decisions can and should be documented & reported to the state education agency. The concept of pre-determination has been litigated as a “no-no”. There may be information on this on this website.

      • I’m a general ed teacher, and just had a pre-meeting yesterday for a student who is up for an IEP elligibility meeting. We of course didn’t make any decisions, but a new teacher just came on board in the prep of this meeting, and it was a good time to discuss our own observations and data.

          • Thank you. To clarify, the school team is talking to and meeting with their counterparts at the potential placement school before parents are informed of the possibility.

          • Curious, thanks for this information. To me key words are “potential” & “possibility”. Talking to staff at another campus, can make the current campus aware of things that needed to be discussed at the IEP meeting. Often when a student is moving to another campus, staff from that campus is not involved enough.

    • Not sure if this thread is still active, but hoping someone can give advice. Would appreciate any assistance!

      Our son is currently in a life-skills class. He is technically in the 9th grade (high school in our area), but because of schools closing last year, most of the high school students did not transition to the transition center (for kids 18+), so he stayed in the middle school for an extra year.

      Now, the district is telling us there is still not enough room at the high school and he was placed at another middle school for next year. Is this ok? We’ve always been active participants in his IEP meetings, and it baffles me that they “decided” without us. We have a meeting next week, but I would like to be prepared.

  6. Can a school district decide they want to emphasize inclusion and integrate self-contained students into the general education classroom without parents knowledge or an IEP meeting? Our district is expecting self-contained students to participate in the Gen Ed setting for a morning meeting, specials, assemblies and core curriculum. They eliminated the resource rooms as well.

    • They can emphasize all they want but they have to follow the child’s IEP. They cannot eliminate resource room. Some students may never be able to be in General education and not having resource room for students who need can lead to a denial of FAPE.

  7. Can a parent request class profile before deciding if it is proper placement? I know this is not an issues to request this profile in NY. In Florida it is a different story

    • Federal rules say parents are to be provided the information to make informed decisions. So requesting information & a visit to the proposed placement is certainly appropriate. It they will not provide certain information or a visit, you can ask for the legal basis for their answer. Your state parent training & information center can provide guidance on your state rules, & your options.   

  8. Can the school make the decision to have your child remain in resource? My child is in a supported Algebra class and would like to navigate through 9th grade without the period of resource. The school is saying she won’t receive specialized academic instruction in her supported math class (with a resource specialist in the class). SPED supervisor at the school district said she will not be able to work on her IEP goals in a supported math class. My child’s self esteem is suffering and she is not getting the specialized instruction in math in resource that fits her unique needs, however she does get the specialized instruction in her supported gen ed math class. Can the district force my child to stay in resource even though it goes against being in the LRE?

    • Legally they have to consider LRE in making this decision, but they can say they did, and the resource room is the most appropriate place for the “specially designed instruction” she needs. If the parent has not written the district special ed director with their concerns, & requests, I suggest that they do. The parent can use the IDEA dispute resolution processes to challenge the decision. Every state has a federally funded parent training & information center, & a disability rights project to assist parents with situations like this.  .

  9. Due to an eviction and homelessness my rising 10th grader with ASD 1 and social phobia was able to stay at the same school under the McKinney Vento. Now, the school district is telling me he doesn’t qualify any more since we have a stable home so he would need to transfer to a school near us. We moved within the County so the only thing that has changed is the district. It is not in his best interest to be transferred, we will loose him completely because he will shut down. The Covid 19 stay at home order was detrimental enough on him as well as my younger child who has ASD 1 as well. I know there is a way to keep him at the same school due to it being the less restrictive environment. Is there a policy, aside from through the IEP, that will help him not have to change schools?

  10. .My 6th grade son has an IEP, and is placed out of district for 2 years. It’s a good private school, and home district pays for it & transportation. But my son begs to come back to home district. He misses his home school, home district, home neighborhood, and friends here. He cries, saying he’s depressed, miserable, and lonely in that out of district school. I requested at the IEP meeting to bring him back, but they refused. They said if he comes back, his unresolved issues(his not following directions, etc) will repeat. I suggested we try other new things we hadn’t tried(private counseling, FBA, etc.) while having him at home district, and pointed that his eagerness to come back motivates his cooperation. But still they refused. What should I do? How can I bring him back? Thank you.

  11. My son is in an sbs classroom in our school district for sensory processing. He is on an IEP. My husband and I were involved in the decision to move him to this school and classroom. He has made tremendous progress since starting in this classroom. I was just informed that the district has decided to transfer him to a different school next yea, still in and and classroom because it is closer to his home school. We were not given a choice. Is this allowed. I thought that the IEP team including the parents made these decisions. Any help is appreciated. I know this will be a major setback to him.

    • Carolyn, if this placement/classroom is basically the same as the current one, but just on a different campus, then it is not considered a change of placement & your consent is not needed. If this change is going to happen, you can request actions be put in place to make the transition as smooth as possible. If some of the current staff could be moved with him that could help, & at least the staff should work with the new staff.

  12. My son is in an sbs classroom for sensory processing issues and is finally starting to make progress and is very comfortable with his teachers and classmates. I was just informed that the district intends to transfer him to a different school next year because the new school is closer to his home school. Can the district legally do this without my consent? He is on an IEP and they neededy permission to place him in his current classroom. Any help is appreciated. TIA.

  13. My son is who is in the sixth grade under the category OHI is not allowed to attend school due to pending Criminal charges. He has received 45 minutes in the special education classroom for social skills the last five years. The IEP team proposed an IEP for private day school which separates him from learning with non disabled peers 100% of the time (based of off incomplete evaluations).

    Homebound (not his IEP placement)
    has required me to drive AND attend the school five nights a week after school hours for the last 6 months, Public School (Current IEP placement) is not an option, relationship is damaged, What other options are available?

  14. My child was placed out of district at a private school for behavior challenged kiddos. She has made wonderful progress with her IEP goals and I feel that at this point, being in that environment will start to become counter productive to her emotional growth. I would like to have her return to mainstream school (albeit NOT her home school). How do I go about requesting this for consideration?

  15. Can a school force me to place my child out of district and mandate the deaf ed and hard of hearing program? Is this legal? Don’t they have to accommodate her wherever she goes to school – why should she have to go to the school in the worst neighborhood with the lowest performing scores, because she has a hearing impairment? It feels like discrimination? Don’t we have a choice?

    • Legally they can do this under the concept that this is where a free appropriate public education can be provided. However, parents have the right to disagree, and challenge that decision by a complaint to the state or a due process hearing.

  16. How about a county that does not decide placement at the actual IEP meeting with the parents? They say that the placement decision is made at the central office, and parents are called with this information days after the IEP? I can’t find how this is legal, but can’t actually find information proving that it is not…

  17. I am a sp ed advocate representing a bright 4th grader (average cognitive ability) whose dyslexia has caused him to fall far behind in reading and written language.
    The IEP team has made a predetermined “decision”, with no discussion with the very aware and involved parents. The conclusion they made was to change his placement from regular ed with resource to a self contained classroom!!!!

    Two questions
    Parents have refused placement in self contained. Can the Team follow through with the placement without parental consent?

    Must the parents spend thousands of dollars in lawyers’ fees to rectify the inappropriate decision?

    • Yes, once a student is being served in special ed the school does not need the parent’s consent. But the parent can withdraw consent for any special ed services. The federal dispute resolution processes are provided for parents to fight decisions they agree with. A state complaint and mediation involve little if any cost. In due process parents do not have to have an attorney, but the state should have a list of low cost attorneys, and every state has a disability rights group that handle some cases for no cost.

  18. Please help- After years of fighting for help for my son with Dyslexia, i signed a settelment agreement and district was to provide tuition reimbursement within 60 days. They were very late forcing me to re-enroll after just 10 weeks- but the District said NO enrollment and my son has no school. The district breached their own contract. My son is being prevented from enrolling back in our public school although i have not received any $.
    I filed with the CDE and they are investigating.
    Someone help.

  19. IEP team decided without me or my wife’s input the placement for our child. We feel that he needs to be educated with non-disabled peers. School does not care about the law or what we want they just do what they want. Our son was placed in a life skills room. We don’t like this and have asked in writing for an IEP meeting to resolve this issue. School refuses to meet. What should we do?

    • It’s good that you did this in writing, and hopefully they responded in writing. If not, you should ask for that.
      There is a lot of great information on this site about the technicalities of the letter writing process (registered mail or not, hand delivered letter etc.) as well as letter content.
      You have the right under IDEA to file for due process. The district probably have their own procedures for filing a grievance, but they cannot deny this. They may want to begin with mediation, but my guess is they would rather have the IEP meeting, because they know, that is your right. They should also know that placement decisions are made by the IEP TEAM, and that team includes the parents.

  20. I currently have a client who is placed in a theraputic day school based on district recommendation. The alternative placement notified parents they no longer could support this student and gave 30 days notice for change of placement. We are 15 days til this student will be without an educational placement. District sent packets to alternative placement options but have not heard back. Parents want to tour prior to agreeing to placement. My question is what happens if after 30 days we have no alternative placement ? What is the districts responsibility to this child regarding education? What is alternative placements responsibility to the child? Does he stay home until a placement is found? If the district home schools, what are they required to provide? This child has an IEP and BIP.

  21. What if a child is doing well at school and making progress when there, but the parents continuously hospitalize him for behaviors outside of school, not allowing the child to access public education? When in the CBAT programs and able to attend current programming, the child thrives, and there are no issues. Issues only occur in the home setting, and now parent is requesting residential placement.

  22. My daughter started highschool this year i am livid because #1 I was not involved in my childs placement or her program. #2 they are not accommodating my child appropriately #3 i asked if they had an extensive reading program their answer is no….#4 I have never received a BIP OR FBA but yet her IEP Says yes…#5my daughter’ s one on one is just an aide not a paraprofessional her ABA is just a special ed teacher not board certified#6 my daughter is in an adapted PE class and she shouldn’t be.

  23. My son is 3 years old. I had an evaluation through public school in my county and they are saying he is ASD. They state they cannot accommodate the services he needs in my local district, so they want to place him in a school about 45 minutes from my house. My biggest issue is the school is in a terrible neighborhood. There is another comparable school which would fit his needs 15 minutes closer to me and in a way better neighborhood . The school accepts IEP students, but the school district will not open a contract with them and they will not tell me why. What can I do?

  24. What if the psychiatrist feels it is in the best interest to remain on Home Instruction rather than attend a special needs school? As the parent I wholeheartedly agree with the doctor, but at the CSE meeting I was told that is not an option. Is that true?

    • Did you provide documentation from the psychiatrist stating the medical necessity of home based instruction?

    • Legally it should be considered as an option. However, IEP teams only have to consider a doctor’s recommendations. The team must develop an IEP reasonably calculated to provide FAPE, & with appropriately ambitious goals. If you do not believe that the IEP does this, especially if it is the same or very similar to what has been tried in the past, you can use the dispute resolution processes provided under IDEA. You can propose that home instruction be provided while an appropriate IEP is being developed. Your state parent training & information center can be of assistance to you.

  25. 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.

  26. 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..

  27. 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.

  28. 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 ?!?!

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

    • 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.

  29. 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?

  30. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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???

  33. Hello,
    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.

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

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