You have just moved and went to register your child with an IEP at their new School, now what? The good news is the new School District must continue to provide your child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) including services comparable to those described in the current IEP until a new IEP can be adopted. It is important to note that “comparable” doesn’t mean exactly the same but only means that services should be similar. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has slightly different procedures for Children who transfer School Districts dependent on whether they are moving within or out of State. The exact language is listed below:
(C) Program for Children Who Transfer School Districts.
(i) In General.
(I) Transfer within the Same State. In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in the same State, the local educational agency shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents until such time as the local educational agency adopts the previously held IEP or develops, adopts, and implements a new IEP that is consistent with Federal and State law.
(II) Transfer Outside State. In the case of a child with a disability who transfers school districts within the same academic year, who enrolls in a new school, and who had an IEP that was in effect in another State, the local educational agency shall provide such child with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously held IEP, in consultation with the parents until such time as the local educational agency conducts an evaluation pursuant to subsection (a)(1), if determined to be necessary by such agency, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that is consistent with Federal and State law.
IDEA goes on to establish a procedure for Schools to utilize to transfer records. Although, the Schools are responsible for promptly obtaining a child’s record it is good practice for the Parents to also send a written request to the prior School District to help facilitate the process. The exact language for the transmittal of records is listed below:
(ii) Transmittal of Records. To facilitate the transition for a child described in clause (i)
(I) the new school in which the child enrolls shall take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the child’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education or related services to the child, from the previous school in which the child was enrolled, pursuant to section 99.31(a)(2) of title 34, Code of Federal Regulations; and
(II) the previous school in which the child was enrolled shall take reasonable steps to promptly respond to such request from the new school.
Lastly, when a child transfers School Districts any assessments must be completed, “as expeditiously as possible, to ensure prompt completion of full evaluations.” Like all School District assessments the Parents have the right to disagree if they feel the assessments are incomplete or inaccurate.
It’s important for parents to know, that all of the language regarding transfers was included for the first time in the 2004 reauthorization of IDEA. Prior to 2004, some School Districts would not implement, nor provide, an IEP for transferring students for months which impeded their right to FAPE. This went against the spirit of IDEA and was remedied in 2004. If you feel your School District is not following the transfer guidelines, try writing a letter documenting their non-compliance. If that doesn’t work, you can file a State Department of Education complaint or Due Process Complaint.