"Placement" and Least Restrictive Environment under the IDEA
Traditional public schools are government operated and funded institutions. Being that these schools receive federal funding, they are required to follow federal regulations and mandates. With regard to special education rights and protections, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") is the primary federal law governing public schools. The IDEA requires that each child be provided with a Free and Appropriate Public Education ("FAPE"). The IDEA defines FAPE as follows: special education and related services that (a) have been provided at public expense; (b) meet the standards of the State educational agency; (c) include an appropriate preschool, elementary school, or secondary school education; and (d) are provided in conformity with the individualized education. 20 U.S.C. § 602(9).
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)).
The law provides that an IEP team may place a student in an interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days, regardless of whether the student's behavior is determined to be a manifestation of the student's disability, under any of three "special circumstances."
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 Continuum of Special Education Placements is something that an IEP team will generally discuss when determining which type of educational placement will be most appropriate for any particular student. This term and the subsequent discussion that follows this term is one that can be confusing for any parent.
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.
Your child has not shown progress through his or her current Individualized Education Plan (IEP) placement. Is he or she ready for a nonpublic school placement?
Moving is stressful enough. Amongst hiring help and labeling boxes, you shouldn't have to worry about your child's education, especially when your child requires special education services.
In some instances, parents want to place their children somewhere other than a comprehensive public school campus. This may include consideration of a child's special needs, past performance or just a personal preference by the parents or the child. Whatever the considerations may be, many times parents understand that a private school is the same thing as a nonpublic school, which is not necessarily accurate, especially if you're asking for the school district to foot the bill.