"Placement" and Least Restrictive Environment under the IDEA
In Rowley, the United States Supreme Court provided that "implicit in the congressional purpose of providing a 'free appropriate public education' is the requirement that the education provided be sufficient to confer some educational benefit upon the handicapped child". (Board of Ed. Of the Hendrick Hudson Sch. Dist. v. Rowley, 458 U.S. 176, 201-03 (1982); J.L. v. Mercer Island Sch. Dist., 592 F.3d 938 (2009)).
In determining the educational placement for a child with a disability, a school district is charged with ensuring that the placement is as close as possible to the child's home. Unless the child's IEP requires another arrangement, the child is to be educated in the school that he or she would attend if non-disabled. (34 C.F.R. § 300.116(b)(3), (c)).
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires all public schools to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities. This means that your child still has the right to services under an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) even if you choose to send him or her to an alternative public school placement.
School districts are required to provide all students with a Free and Appropriate Public Education, often times referred to as "FAPE". What constitutes "appropriate" is a point of much contention between parents, school districts and attorneys alike. Therefore, it has been left up to the courts to shed more light on what actually constitutes an appropriate public education. Located below is a brief glimpse into how different courts have weighed in on this discussion. In determining whether the Local Education Agency has offered Student a FAPE, the proper focus is on the adequacy of the offer of placement. If a student fails to make progress within a reasonable period of time, the LEA must convene an IEP meeting to address the student's lack of progress. A LEA's continuation of inadequate services will almost certainly be regarded as a denial of FAPE. 
Every parent who attends an IEP meeting is simply looking to obtain an educational placement that is appropriate for their child, and will allow their child to make substantive progress throughout the school year. However, the IEP process can also be very stressful and confusing. What all parents should be aware of in preparing for an IEP meeting, is that the burden is on the school district to provide a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE") for all children. Not only must the educational placement be appropriate, but it also must be qualify as a clear written offer of placement. (Union Sch. Dist, v Smith, (9th Cir. 1994), 15 F.3d 1519.)
You may be thinking about enrolling your child into a charter school. Parents in a parent group you're in, or maybe even friends or family have their children in charter schools, and they rave about how well those kids are doing. Charter schools can boast smaller learning environments, better teacher to student ratio, smaller campuses and more teacher and staff availability to parents. All of these things are great, and they do work out very well for some students. However, you may be wondering if the charter school route is right for your child, who is enrolled in special education.
Children involved in the foster care system have additional rights to placement in addition to any special education and related services they are currently receiving. Under the California Assembly Bill 490 (AB 490), if a foster child changes residential placements, the district serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the school year. This is allowed under the law if remaining in that school is in the child's best interest.
You just had your child's IEP, and a bunch of information was thrown out there by multiple professionals over the course of a couple of hours. The school district administrator is now asking you to sign the place in the IEP document which indicates that you consent to the IEP. What do you do? Is it ok not to sign it?
You just had an IEP meeting, and the school district offered your child a change of placement from general education to a special day class. What do you do? You may be wondering if this placement is appropriate for your child, even though the school district personnel told you it was. You may be wondering what other options are available?