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What Happens to a Child's Special Education Program When the Family Moves

Question

We are moving to another state this summer. Our son, William, has a learning disability and is in special education. How can I make sure that he continues to receive the special education services that he needs?

Answer

We strongly suggest that prior to the move, you contact the special education department of the district or state agency where you plan to live to find out their eligibility criteria for learning disabilities. You might also contact the LDA state or local affiliate in the state to which you are moving. The names and addresses of state and local affiliate presidents are on file in the LDA National Office. Talking with another parent may be reassuring.

When you get to the new school district, enroll your child immediately. Sign a release at the new school to enable the district to obtain copies of your son's cumulative and special education records from his previous school. You may save valuable time if you bring copies of your son's latest evaluation and his current IEP with you.

The US Department of Education, in a letter dated December 5,1995, addressed the responsibilities of states and school districts to students with disabilities when they transfer from one state to another. Under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the school district to which you are moving is not required to accept your child's most recent evaluation or to implement your child's Individualized Education Program (IEP). The Education Department letter does, however, spell out guidelines for the receiving state and district.

When a family moves from one state to another, the receiving school district must first determine whether it will adopt the child's most recent evaluation and IEP. If the receiving district determines that the previous evaluation complies with their state laws as well as Part B of IDEA, they may adopt the evaluation and provide the parent notice in accordance with 34 CFR § 300.504 (a).

The receiving district must also examine the student's IEP using the same criteria compliance with state law and Part B of IDEA. If the receiving district determines the IEP is appropriate and can be implemented, no IEP meeting needs to be held if the parent is satisfied with the current IEP. If either the parent or the school district is dissatisfied with the existing IEP, an IEP meeting must be conducted no later than 30 calendar days after the receiving school district accepts the eligibility determination and evaluation from the previous school district.

If the receiving school district does not accept previous evaluation, anew one must be done <cite>without due delay</cite> after provision of proper parental notice under 34 CFR § 300.128, § 300.220, and § 300.504 (a). The new evaluation must be treated as a <cite>preplacement evaluation</cite> under 34 CFR §300.531, and prior parental consent must be obtained (34 CFR § 300.504 (b)( l )(i)). While being evaluated, the student may receive special education services if an interim IEP is agreed to by the district and parent. If there is a disagreement, the student will be placed in regular education. Once the receiving district completes its assessment, an IEP meeting must be held no more than 30 calendar days after the date of eligibility determination (34 CFR § 300.343(c)). At that meeting an appropriate IEP should be developed and adopted.

Parents may initiate an impartial due process hearing under 34 CFR § 300.506 if they disagree with either the new evaluation or the proposed IEP. Pending the hearing, the student could be placed in the program proposed by the receiving district, if the parent agrees or in another placement on which agreement can be reached. If agreement on an interim placement is not reached, the district is not required to implement the previous IEP or to approximate services provided under the previous IEP. In such a situation, the student would be placed in a regular education program.

Remember, even if your son is not eligible for special education services under IDEA in the new school district, he may be eligible under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Information on Section 504 can be obtained from your state education agency or from LDA.

Learning Disabilities Association of America Newsbriefs July/August 1996
The source of the information presented is a Letter of Clarification from Thomas Hehir, Director, Office of Special Education Programs, US Department of Education, to the Chief State School Officers dated December 6, 1995 (OSEP 96-5).