You and the school have worked together and come up with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). You’ve decided what services your child needs, and you’ve got a plan for reaching your child’s goals. Then you discover you need to switch public schools.
So what happens to your child’s IEP? Does it go wherever he goes? The answer: Not always.
The first thing to know is that all states and schools must follow federal law. They must meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which says they must provide a free, appropriate public education to all eligible children.
But different states may have additional special education laws. And although the term “IEP” is used everywhere, states may also use different words to talk about some of their services. Even different school districts in the same state can do things slightly differently.
With that in mind, here are three scenarios of what could happen to your child’s IEP.
Scenario #1: Switching Schools Within the School District
When you move within the school district, your child’s IEP stays in place. This is the most clear-cut of the three scenarios. An IEP is a plan you agree to with your local school district. And since you didn’t move out of district, the IEP doesn’t change.
Scenario #2: Switching to Another School District Within the Same State
When you move to another school district in the same state, your child’s new school has a choice. It can either accept your child’s current IEP or develop a new one. To develop a new IEP, the school district has to go through the standard IEP process. And as a part of the IEP team, you have the right to be involved.
Until the school decides what to do, it must continue to give your child services “comparable” to those in your current IEP. The services might not be exactly the same, but they have to be similar.
Scenario #3: Switching to a School District in Another State
When you move to a new state, your child may face different rules for who is eligible for special education services. Your child’s new school must decide if your child qualifies under those rules. That may require a new evaluation. If your child qualifies, the new school will develop a new IEP for him. As always, you’ll have a chance to give input.
While this happens, the new school must continue to give your child services “comparable” to those in your current IEP. You can find out more specifics from the new state’s department of education or Parent Training and Information Center.
In all cases when you move, the staff at a new school will want to look at your child’s IEP and his school records. Sometimes school districts do this because they want to have the most updated information about your child. Sometimes, they simply do things differently.
If you’re moving to a new school, you may want start planning now to request your child’s school records. You may also want to review how the IEP process works.