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What if the school wants to exit my child from special education services, but they still need support?

What if the school wants to exit my child from special education services, but they still need support?


Published: May. 8, 2024

If your child is really ready to exit from special education services, it is a reason to celebrate and recognize the achievement of your team and, most of all, your kid progressing to the point that they no longer need and are no longer eligible for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Remember that being ready to exit from special education doesn’t mean they don’t need help anymore — it's just that the help they need is not specially designed instruction or a related service. Your child may still need accommodations as a person with a disability, not only to access the curriculum but to participate in the school community. In this case, you should discuss starting a 504 Plan for your child.

All too often, the IEP team is ready for the exit before the student is. If you feel that your student still needs special education and related services to access the curriculum, then there are some protections in place that take seriously your right as a parent to disagree. Also, remember that needing special education is not about needing to be in a particular classroom; special education is a service that should always be portable and available in general education classrooms. The question to ask is: does the student still need specially designed instruction?

The IEP team cannot exit your child from an IEP without your consent. The first thing to do is to disagree. Check the box that you disagree with the IEP and write a letter to attach to the IEP stating that you disagree that your child no longer needs special education, and you disagree that they are no longer eligible for an IEP. In your letter, state that you are invoking Stay Put. Your school will then have to continue to implement the last signed IEP until your disagreement is resolved.

The next step depends on how long it is since your child's last triennial assessments. Every three years, the school should carry out a complete evaluation including psycho-educational assessment and assessments for any related services that your child receives. These tests are used to determine if your child is eligible for an IEP. If these tests are less than 24 months old, immediately request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). If the school district agrees to the IEE, you will select an assessor, and they will do an independent assessment to see if your child has needs that qualify for an IEP. This is also a great report to have when it comes to documenting their disability for a 504 plan.

If the test is more than 24 months old, you should request that the school do a complete assessment in order to determine if your child still qualifies for an IEP. The school will present you with an assessment plan. Make sure you request all areas of concern even if those have not been previously assessed. After you sign that assessment plan, the school will have 60 days to do the testing, write the report, and present it to you at an IEP meeting. Like any assessment, you can request that they provide you with a draft before the meeting. If you disagree with this assessment, you can still request an IEE.

During all this assessment, your child should still receive their IEP services and accommodations based on the last signed IEP because you are on Stay Put. If after the assessments you still disagree with your IEP team, you can file for a due process hearing so that an Administrative Law Judge makes the determination. It is highly recommended to work with a special education attorney when you file for due process.

By the way, the same rule applies to any individual related service that you receive in an IEP. If your service provider recommends exiting occupational therapy or speech therapy, for example, you can disagree and remain on Stay Put until the disagreement is resolved. You can ask for a new assessment or an IEE if your last assessment is less than two years old. You can also ask to move the service to “‘consult” for a year rather than direct service so that your child remains monitored by the service provider and data is collected to monitor the effect of the withdrawal of service.

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Karen Ford CullUndivided Education Advocate and Content Specialist

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