Residential placements for special needs children
If your child cannot attend your local school due to behavioral issues caused by a disability or mental illness, the school district and/or cooperative serving that school district is still liable for ensuring that the child receives FAPE (a free appropriate public education).
If ensuring your child’s right to FAPE means that the school district or cooperative must provide an IEP that calls for a residential placement, then that is the legal responsibility of the school where you live or the school district where the residential school is located.
Often, however, schools will not voluntarily agree to write in a residential placement into a child’s IEP due to the high cost that the school will have to pay to provide that.
However, the schools can write in the child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program or Plan) that a residential placement is required for educational reasons and then seek extraordinary funding from the state department of education, which has funds set aside for just such purposes.
Oftentimes, securing a residential placement paid for by the school or state must be done via the special education hearing process, due to the high costs involved and the reluctance of schools to make the financial commitment necessary.
If your child needs a residential placement for educational reasons, and you are receiving resistance from your school district, you are likely going to have to file for a due process hearing in order to get that done via a settlement agreement or via a hearing officer order.
The school can be liable for paying for this placement through age 22 or until the child receives a regular diploma.
****Note: If your child is NOW in an agreed-upon residential placement, pursuant to your child’s IEP, and the school is suggesting that the residential placement should end and you do not agree that that is appropriate and if you file for a special education hearing BEFORE the projected end date of your child’s placement, that hearing request triggers “stay put” which means that your child is legally entitled to stay in that residential placement at school or state expense until all the legal proceedings are resolved, which in some instances can take months or years.****
The above information is a simplified explanation. If you are in a situation potentially involving a residential placement, it’s best to seek the assistance of an attorney in order to fully understand your rights and how the laws apply in your particular circumstances.
Top of Page