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Special Education Student IEPs Upon Transfer

What happens to your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) when you move to a new school district? In California, the answer partly depends on whether you transfer from a school district within the boundaries of one Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) to a school district in a different SELPA, or simply within school districts in the same SELPA. You can find information about the different SELPA’s on the California Department of Education website, here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/as/caselpas.asp

If you move to a different SELPA, the new school district must, without delay, provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE), including services comparable to those described in the IEP approved by the previous school district for up to 30 days. Within those 30 days, the new school district must either adopt the previous school district’s IEP or develop and adopt a new IEP that provides a FAPE.

If you move within the same SELPA, the new school district must, without delay, provide a FAPE that includes services comparable to those described in the IEP approved by the previous school district, unless both the parent and new school district agree to develop and adopt a new IEP that provides a FAPE.

For out-of-state special education students moving into a California school district, the California district must provide the child with a FAPE, including services comparable to those described in the IEP approved out-of-state, until the California school district conducts a full initial evaluation, if determined necessary by the district, and develops a new IEP, if appropriate, that provides a FAPE.

Relevant California and Federal legal references:

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(1), provides, in pertinent part:

As required by [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I)], . . . In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who has an individualized education program and transfers into a district from a district not operating programs under the same local plan in which he or she was last enrolled in a special education program within the same academic year, the local educational agency shall provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents, for a period not to exceed 30 days, by which time the local educational agency shall adopt the previously approved individualized education program or shall develop, adopt, and implement a new individualized education program that is consistent with federal and state law.

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(2), provides:

In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who has an individualized education program and transfers into a district from a district operating programs under the same special education local plan area of the district in which he or she was last enrolled in a special education program within the same academic year, the new district shall continue, without delay, to provide services comparable to those described in the existing approved individualized education program, unless the parent and the local educational agency agree to develop, adopt, and implement a new individualized education program that is consistent with federal and state law.

Education Code section 56325, subdivision (a)(3), provides:

As required by [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(II)], the following shall apply to special education programs for individuals with exceptional needs who transfer from an educational agency located outside the State of California to a district within California. In the case of an individual with exceptional needs who transfers from district to district within the same academic year, the local educational agency shall provide the pupil with a free appropriate public education, including services comparable to those described in the previously approved individualized education program, in consultation with the parents, until the local educational agency conducts an assessment pursuant to [20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (a)(1)], if determined to be necessary by the local educational agency, and develops a new individualized education program, if appropriate, that is consistent with federal and state law.

To facilitate the transition from one school district to another, the new school in which the student enrolls shall take reasonable steps to promptly obtain the pupil’s records, including the IEP and supporting documents and any other records relating to the provision of special education and related services to the pupil, from the previous school in which the pupil was enrolled. (Ed. Code, § 56325, subd. (b)(1).)

20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), provides:

Transfer with 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.

34 C.F.R., section 300.323(e) contains the same requirements as Section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), and applies to transfer students “who had an IEP that was in effect in a previous public agency in the same State.”

20 U.S.C., section 1414, subdivision (d)(2)(C)(i)(I), provides:

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.

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