#AutismAwareness Individuals with Disabilities Act
Every child receiving special education services are covered under the Federal law, the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). This federal law names the ways in which children who receive public education are protected and what they are entitled to for special education. It is important to know that every state has to abide by what IDEA lays out. However, every State is different. The only variation allowed is if the State chooses to make principles of IDEA more stringent (ex: timelines shorter) for their individual state.
What you need to know if your child has an IEP:
If your family moves to a new state, IDEA is clear that the services your child received in the State where they originally received Special Education services transfer across State lines. So for example, if your family lives in Minnesota and your child receives 5 hours of resource support and 1 hour of speech therapy, when you pick up and move to New York, IDEA protects your child’s educational rights to continue to receive 5 hours of resource and 1 hour of speech therapy in their new school. This goes the same if you move within the same state too! IDEA maps out what EVERY IEP MUST HAVE ACROSS THE NATION, however, each states IEP may physically look different.
Q: Can the receiving school change Your child’s IEP because they don’t have the same exact programs as your previous school?
A: Yes and No. The school can absolutely NEVER make changes to your child’s IEP without a Planning and Placement team meeting (IEP meeting…every state uses different terminology too!) or without your consent. As the Parent, you are the foremost member of a team. If the receiving school does not offer specific programs or certain support services that existed in your former state, it becomes the responsibility of the new team (yes including you the parent) to determine what services can be provided that resemble the child’s previous IEP or if there is a different placement available within the new school district to give the child what he/she needs. If your child had something specific like a 1:1 aide or behavioral therapist, it is absolutely imperative that the new school complies with similar recommendations. They are legally bound under the IEP, which is a legal document, to honor the services that have already been determined are necessary for that child’s educational success. If the school system states that they “don’t do that” or “don’t have that resource” they are out of compliance and you need to contact the school systems Director of Special Education or even the State immediately. Always put your concerns in writing to make a paper trail documenting your concern (this includes email).
If it is a question of hours or service delivery, use your judgement. Go with your gut. If you feel the school is proposing something completely irrational (i.e. cutting 5 hours down to 1) disagree with the proposed change. Legally if there is a disagreement, the old IEP must remain until a new one is agreed upon.
If you feel the school is proposing something appropriate, again go with your gut. For example, if the school wants to change 5 hours of pull out resource support to 2 hours pull out and 3 hours in the classroom because the resource teacher co-teaches reading this may be an acceptable service delivery alteration. It’s not changing the service being delivered just the setting. Just always remember: YOU CAN CALL A PPT WHENEVER YOU WANT!
Again, your parental right under IDEA is to hold a meeting whenever you want to discuss or make changes to your child’s IEP. Team meetings may suffice too, but if it ever comes down to changes in IEP services, hours, etc. hold a PPT/IEP meeting.
If you are ever in the situation where a new school system does not honor an IEP or attempts to remove services, you should immediately hold a PPT meeting and document your concerns or disagreement. You always have the right to contact your State department of special education and file a formal complaint against the school district. Should it become a legal issue, you may want to exercise your right to due process and search for educational advocates or attorneys that specialize in educational law.
Jodi L. Everone, M.S., CCC-SLP