This blog is a brief overview of what the new school district must do, at least initially, to meet your child's educational needs. The following only applies to students, in California, who already have an IEP when they transfer.
1. Transfer from one district to another, within the same state
If you transfer within your same state to a new school district, then for up to 30 days the local educational agency must provide your child with FAPE. This offer of FAPE must include services comparable to those described in the previous IEP document and the new district should consult with the parents in determining what is "comparable."
At the 30 day point, the new school district must adopt the previously approved IEP that is consistent with the law.
2. Transfer from one district to another, within the same special education local plan area ("SELPA")
If you transfer districts, but you are within the same SELPA as the previous school (what is a SELPA?) the new district must continue, without delay, to provide services comparable to those described in the existing approved IEP unless the parent and the local educational agency agree to develop, adopt, and implement a new IEP that is consistent with the law.
3. Transfer from one state to another
If you transfer from another state into California, the local educational agency must provide the student with FAPE. These services must be comparable to those described in the previously approved IEP and the new district should consult with parents in determining what is "comparable."
In this scenario, the Education Code vaguely addresses assessments by stating that the local educational agency must provide FAPE until it conducts an assessment, if determined to be necessary by the local educational agency, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that is consistent with the law. However, there is no mandatory obligation that the new district conduct assessments.
4. Other Requirements
In addition to the above, the following requirements also apply:
- The new school must "take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the pupil's records."
- Each local educational agency must ensure that assessments of individuals with exceptional needs are coordinated with the individual's prior and subsequent schools, as necessary and as expeditiously as possible.
So what does this all mean? If any confusion arises, remember, the bottom line is that the District still has the obligation to provide your child with FAPE. Even where there is an interim period, after the first 30 days, every child should be provided with an appropriate education to meet his or her unique educational needs.
What to watch out for? If you enter a new district and its offer of FAPE does not appear to be "comparable" to the placement and services in the previous IEP, then do not blindly accept the new district's offer. You still maintain all your parental rights. In this scenario, request a full battery of assessments and then an IEP meeting where those assessment results can be shared. It is important to keep in mind that the new school district does not yet know your child, so you may have to advocate harder than before to ensure it learns what your child's unique needs are, and what services are appropriate to meet those needs.
Any strategy? To avoid any additional confusion, in most cases, it is the best idea to ensure that before you transfer districts that you have an agreed upon and implemented IEP. However, this does not mean that you should consent to an IEP just for the sake of transferring - but where there is an appropriate IEP, make sure it is consented to and implemented before the transfer.
My situation is a little different.... Please, let us know if your scenario is not covered in the above, and we would love to participate in a discussion with you and other blog readers about what your options may be! (Contact special education attorneys)