What are schools required to do if an IEP team determines a particular educational placement is needed that the school does not have?

Published: June 24th, 2016

Public schools, including charter schools, “must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services.” [34 C.F.R. § 300.115(a)] This continuum of educational placements must include “instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.” [Id.] “Although the [IDEA] does not require that each school building in an LEA be able to provide all the special education and related services for all types and severities of disabilities, the [school] has an obligation to make available a full continuum of alternative placement options that maximize opportunities for its children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled peers to the extent appropriate. In all cases, placement decisions must be individually determined on the basis of the child’s abilities and needs and each child’s IEP, and not solely on factors such as category of disability, severity of disability, availability of special education and related services, configuration of the service delivery system, availability of space, or administrative convenience.” [34 C.F.R. Part 300, Analysis of Comments and Changes, Subpart B–State Eligibility, Federal Register, Vol.71, No. 156, p. 46588 (August 2006)] Therefore, if a school does not have the educational placement needed by a particular child, it can pay tuition to send the student to a school that has the appropriate placement, it can contract services out to a vendor, or it can create an appropriate program.