Where students with special needs are instructed can be an emotional issue for parents and a source of disagreement with schools. The law requires that disabled students be educated in the least restrictive environment. In other words, disabled children should be educated with their nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate.
- Placement decisions are NOT based on a student’s disability, what supports he or she needs, or what any teacher, parent or principal wants.
- Placement decisions are NOT based on what is convenient for the school.
- A desired placement should NEVER determine the content of your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP).
- Rather, the placement decision is made by the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) Committee AFTER the IEP is developed.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL!
All schools must provide a continuum of placement options, ranging from the general education classroom with support to more restrictive self-contained classrooms. Additionally, some students may require homebound services, residential placement or other private school options (at the school’s expense) to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). Placement decisions should always be based on the individual needs of the child.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO CHALLENGE THE SCHOOL’S PROPOSED PLACEMENT
Many parents make the mistake early on of agreeing to whatever the school district suggests. As a parent, you have the right to challenge the school’s proposed placement just as you would any other element of the IEP.
- Perhaps you believe your child should be mainstreamed with the assistance of an aide.
- Perhaps you believe your child requires a portion of his or her day in a special education setting.
- Perhaps the school is proposing a behavior classroom setting that is not appropriate for your child. Sometimes a private placement or a residential placement at the school’s expense is needed.
DON’T BE DENIED
If you believe the school’s proposed placement is not appropriate for your child, you do not have to agree. Attorney Sharon Ramage represents parents seeking appropriate placement for their children. With 13 years experience as a Texas special education hearing officer, she knows how to advocate for the best placement for your child.