OUT OF DISTRICT PLACEMENT: A Word of Caution
If you think your child’s placement is not appropriate it does not mean that your public school district has to place your child out of district even if your child has an IEP or Section 504 Plan. You have the right to place your child in any school that you choose but only if you are willing to pay for that school.

If you believe that your public school district should place your child out of district then the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA) provides that the IEP Team, of which a child’s parents/guardians are full members, make placement decisions in an IEP meeting. Once you request an out of district placement your district may improve your child’s IEP program so that the in district placement is legally appropriate for your child. If the district offers a strong program, you need to be ready to stay in district to see if your child succeeds academically, socially and emotionally with the new program. Remember your district is legally required to educate your child in the least restrictive environment, which except for preschoolers, is the public school that your child would attend but for your child’s disability.

Before moving to changing your child’s placement we recommend that you take the following steps:
• Know your rights under IDEA/Section 504.
• Raise any and all concerns about your child’s current placement or level of services with the teacher & the IEP/504 Team.
• Work collaboratively with the district to improve your child’s program/services.
• Document, in writing, all of your efforts and their rejections of your requests.
• If your child has a Section 504, ask the CST to evaluate your child’s eligibility for special education and related services under IDEA.
• If you make requests that the district denies, district to put their rationale for denying such requests in writing in accordance with the law.
• Request re-evaluation of your child if the current data is more than 13 months old and your child is struggling.
• Provide the IEP/504 Team reports from outside treating professionals (psychologists, doctors, psychiatrists, speech, OT, PT, etc.).
• Seek a legal evaluation of your case prior to the IEP meeting to review the evaluation and functional data,
• If the evaluations and functional data show that your child is not progressing emotionally, socially or academically in the current placement then ask for an out of district placement at the IEP meeting.
• Tape the IEP meeting (remember to give your case manager 24 hours notice that you will be taping).
• IF the district refuses your request to consider out of district placements ask the rationale for the decision during the IEP meeting.

We highly recommend that every parent of a child with a disability understand the rights given to children and parents under federal and state law. We offer consultations with an attorney or advocate with special education law experience. Contact the author if you or someone you know needs an experienced special education attorney or advocate.

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