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Renee:  We are looking into out of district placement for HS for our daughter with Down Syndrome. Our district is fighting us on this, however we feel she would best fit in a school for children with special needs, she doesn’t have any friends in our current district. We feel socially, academically, her independence, there would be so much more opportunity for her in this out of district school. Our district is using LRE, and her need to be with her general education peers as a reason to keep her in district. She has been in district for 10 years, with little to no interaction with her gen Ed peers and it has made her regress socially. How do we proceed when our views of out daughter’s future differ so much for the basics she will receive in district?

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Jill G

My ranting aside, and important question to ask yourself is what evidence do you have to support your position?

Unfortunately, what we as parents feel is best for our kids is not enough. We need evidence from professionals to support our position. Such evidence can include school and private evaluations, reports from private clinicians, school records, IEP progress reports, letters from babysitters and other caregivers, etc.

If you don’t have such evidence, start thinking about how you may get it.

You should also look at your “fight” with the district as a long game. It’s not likely that the school will easily offer up an out of district placement, especially if no serious behavioral issues exist. It may take a due process hearing (or at least filing for a hearing) for the school to take you seriously.

I *strongly* suggest you get a copy of “From Emotions to Advocacy.” Think of it as your playbook in this game against the district, the one where an outside placement is at stake.

Jill G

Renee –

My son is in an out of district placement. While it’s more restrictive “on paper” than a placement in his local school, it’s actually less restrictive for him in practice.

Before he was in a separate classroom with a promise of interaction with typical peers that never materialized. At home, we seldom went out in the community because his behavior prevented it.

Now, thanks to the private placement, he has less problematic behavior and more social skills. Although there are no typical kids at the school, they have almost daily opportunities to interact with kids and adults in the surrounding community – and he has the necessary skills to do so successfully. I also am much more confident that he and I can safely venture into the community together.

While I believe strongly in inclusion for the sake of inclusion, and it’s benefits to disabled and non-disabled students alike, keeping a kid in district but separated is in no way the LRE. Hearing officers in my state have just begun to recognize this, within a few recent decisions. I can’t wait for it to filter into other states, and down to district administrators.