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(8.11) Are there any circumstances under which a school can change my child’s placement immediately?

(8.11) Are there any circumstances under which a school can change my child’s placement immediately?

Yes. Under certain circumstances, a district can immediately place your child in a different placement, and keep him there for up to 45 school days, even if the behavior is found to be a manifestation of his disability. In this situation, the different placement is called an “interim alternative educational setting”.

Your child may be placed in an “interim alternative educational setting” if the district claims he has done any of the following:

  1.  Carried a weapon to school or possessed a weapon at school or on school grounds or at a school function;
  2.  Knowingly possessed or used illegal drugs, or sold or solicited the sale of such a drug while at school, on school grounds, or at a school function;
  3.  Inflicted serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school grounds, or at a school function. “Serious bodily injury” means: substantial risk of death, or extreme physical pain, or protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty.
    [20 U.S.C. Secs. 1415(k)(1)(G) & (7)(d)); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.530(g).]

Even if the school district attempts to remove your child to an interim alternative educational setting, it must still meet with you within 10 school days to have a manifestation determination meeting.

You may file for due process to disagree with the manifestation determination IEP meeting decision on expulsion, including moving your child to an interim alternative educational setting. If you file for due process to challenge the placement of your child in an interim setting, or the rest of the IEP team’s decision regarding whether the behavior was a manifestation of disability, an ALJ will decide—in an expedited hearing— whether to return your child to his original placement or leave him in (or order him into) a 45-day alternative placement. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(k)(3)(B); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.532(b).]

During the challenge to either the interim setting or the district’s determination that the behavior was not a manifestation of your child’s disability, your child will stay in whatever setting the district has placed him. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(k)(4)(A).] The hearing must be held within 20 school days from the date of your request and the ALJ must issue a decision within 10 school days after that. There must also be a “resolution session” or mediation held within seven days of the request. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(k)(4)(B); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.532(c).] See Chapter 6, Information Due Process/Compliance Complaints.

The district can also request a due process hearing to ask an ALJ to order a change of placement if the district “believes that maintaining the current placement of the child is substantially likely to result in injury to the child or to others. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.532(a).] If the ALJ determines that maintaining the current placement of the student is substantially likely to result in injury to the student or to others, he may order a change in placement to an appropriate interim alternative educational setting for not more than 45 school days. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(k)(3)(B)(ii)(II); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.532(b)(2)(ii).]

While in an interim alternative educational setting, during a long-term suspension (or expulsion), a student is still entitled to a free appropriate public education which enables the student to appropriately progress in the general curriculum and appropriately advance toward achieving the goals set out in the child’s IEP. This includes behavioral intervention services and modifications so that the behavior for which the student has been placed in the interim alternative educational setting does not recur. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.530(d).]