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Question re : IEP and placement , parent rights , education , special education

San Diego, CA |

My child is diagnosed with Autism. She recently switched electives and needed help in the class. I asked the case manager to look into providing additional support in this particular class. I was told they were going to switch my child to Art because it was a "better fit." Can the school make decisions about placement without first consulting the parent?

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Attorney answers 5


It's best if you work together. Ask for an informal meeting asap. If you are not satisfied, ask for an IEP. If you are still not satisfied, file with the Special Education Hearing Office.


The Learning Rights Law Center in Los Angeles represents families with children with disabilities in education matters. It has an informative web site: that may provide you with guidance. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***


There is not enough information to provide a meaningful answer.
How old is your child?
Who is the education rights holder?
Is this a public or private school?
Is there an IEP in place?
Please re-post and I will attempt to point you in the right direction with either a consultation or a referral.
If you haven't already become familiar with, I would suggest perusing their site. It has a wealth of information for families and friends of children with special needs.

While I am an attorney and I practice in the area of special education the answers that I provide in this forum should not (should never) be construed as "legal advice." If you wish to receive "legal advice" I suggest that you contact me at The Law Office of Janina Botchis. Website: Email: Free Consultation: (818)253-9444 Blog:



Thank you for your response and request for clarifications. My child is 13, in a public school with IEP in place. The parents, her Father and I, are education rights holders. I am familiar with and have recently ordered several books from them but have yet to receive them.


If your child has an IEP, then no, the school cannot change placement without prior written notice. If your child does not have an IEP, then yes, the school can change placement. Please consult a special education advocate or attorney. I recommend Amy Langerman in the San Diego area.


This response assumes that your child has an IEP. Under the procedural safeguards of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a school district must provide for meaningful parental participation and prior written notice whenever it initiates or proposes to change the "educational placement" of a child. (20 U.S.C. Section 1414(b)(1), (3) and 20 U.S.C. Section 1414(e).) In California, "educational placement" means that unique combination of facilities, personnel, location or equipment necessary to provide instructional services to an individual with exceptional needs. (Cal. Code Regs., tit. 5, section 3042.) The IDEA does not define "educational placement." In DeLeon v. Susquehanna Cmty. School District., 747 F.2d 149, 153 (3d Cir. 1984), the Third Circuit interpreted the meaning of "educational placement," stating that "given the remedial purposes of the [IDEA], the term . . . should be given an expansive reading." In DeLeon, a key factor in determining whether a modification in a child's school day should be considered a change in his or her educational placement is "whether the decision is likely to affect in some significant way the child's learning experience."

Decisions regarding educational placements are necessarily fact specific, including whether a particular placement, including a course schedule, requires additional or different supports and certain accommodations or modifications.

The general rule is that decisions regarding "educational placement" must be made within the context of an IEP Meeting with input from the parent and, at times, from the student.

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